ARCHIVE / What is the difference between interpreted and compiled languages?

Interpreted computing languages are languages whose source code is processed by a software program called an interpreter that reads in the text and immediately acts upon the instructions defined by the text. Compiled computing languages are languages whose source code is processed by a software program called a compiler that converts the source code into a file which can then be run directly or indirectly by a computer operating system. There also exist hybrid languages, such as Java and Python, that have qualities of both compiled and interpreted languages. Java, for example, can be compiled into bytecode which must then itself be run by an interpreter referred to as a virtual machine. Since Java source code itself does not have an interpreter, it's reasonable to consider Java to be a compiled langauge. In comparison, Python source code can also be compiled into bytecode to be read by a virtual machine. However, Python source code can also be interpreted by an interpreter. So, it is reasonable to consider Python an interpreted language.

last updated 2007.09.25

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