Webopedia on Google+Webopedia on TwitterWebopedia on FacebookTech Bytes Blog
Main » TERM » I »

interpreter

A program that executes instructions written in a high-level language. There are two ways to run programs written in a high-level language. The most common is to compile the program; the other method is to pass the program through an interpreter.

An interpreter translates high-level instructions into an intermediate form, which it then executes. In contrast, a compiler translates high-level instructions directly into machine language. Compiled programs generally run faster than interpreted programs. The advantage of an interpreter, however, is that it does not need to go through the compilation stage during which machine instructions are generated. This process can be time-consuming if the program is long. The interpreter, on the other hand, can immediately execute high-level programs. For this reason, interpreters are sometimes used during the development of a program, when a programmer wants to add small sections at a time and test them quickly. In addition, interpreters are often used in education because they allow students to program interactively.

Both interpreters and compilers are available for most high-level languages. However, BASIC and LISP are especially designed to be executed by an interpreter. In addition, page description languages, such as PostScript, use an interpreter. Every PostScript printer, for example, has a built-in interpreter that executes PostScript instructions.







TECH RESOURCES FROM OUR PARTNERS
DID YOU KNOW?
It's Happening Now: Perceptual Computing is Real

Perceptual computing is the ability for a computer to recognize what is going on around it. More specifically, the computer can perceive the... Read More »

Apple Pay Promises to Strengthen Payment Security

Experts believe that Apple Pay and other competitive payment systems will be far more secure than cards, even cards equipped with EMV chips. Read More »

The Great Data Storage Debate: Is Tape Dead?

Tape clearly is on the decline. But remember, legacy systems can hang for a shockingly long time. Read More »

QUICK REFERENCE
Network Fundamentals Study Guide

A network is a group of two or more computer systems or devices, linked together to share resources, exchange files and electronic communications.... Read More »

Computer Architecture Study Guide

This Webopedia  study guide describes the different parts of a computer system and their relations. Read More »

Webopedia Polls

The trend for the past two years has been for shoppers to spend more online during the holiday season. How do you typically shop for holiday... Read More »