The Difference Between a Compiler and Interpreter: Definition and Differences

In most cases, we write a computer program in a high-level language, which is a language that we, as humans, can comprehend. This is comprehensible language referred to as source code.


A computer, on the other hand, does not recognize high-level languages. It only accepts machine code, which is a binary program encoded in 0s and 1s.

A compiler or an interpreter is used to translate this source code into machine code.

You will recognize the difference between interpreters and compilers in this blog post.


It is a translator that receives a high-level language as input and outputs a low-level language as output, such as machine or assembly language.

A compiler is smarter than an assembler since it scans for all kinds of restrictions, bounds, and defects.

compiler process

However, its program execution time is longer and it takes up more memory. Because a compiler looks over the entire program and then converts it into machine code, it runs slowly.


An interpreter is a tool that converts a programming language into a language that humans can understand.

It only translates one code statement at a time.

The majority of the time, interpreters are smaller than compilers.

interpreter working

Difference between compiler and interpreter

The compiler reads the entire program at once whereas an interpreter’s work is done by one statement at a time translation.

As a result, a compiler shows all the errors at the end together at once but an interpreter will give you a line-by-line report and display errors, if any.

errors displayed at the end

For the same reason, since interpreters take a while to process the object code, compilers remain a cut above. This is because their execution time is much less compared to interpreters.

Compilers translate the entire source code to object code while interpreters scan it line by line.

Another big difference is that compilers need the source code for later execution, unlike interpreters.

Good examples of compilers would be C, C++, C# etc. while Python and Ruby are some of the more famous interpreters.