0.2 – Why translator

by subbu on July 20, 2013

The native language of computer is the machine language. Programs written in any high level language must be translated into a form that can understand by computer. It can be done by using a piece of software called translator. There are two different types of translators used to translate the high level program (source code) into native executable (computer understandable) code. that are compiler and interpreter.


It is a piece of software developed in either assembly language or C language. It reads the code from the program written in high level language (source code) and translates directly into the executable code that the computer can directly understand. Here the executable code generated by the compiler can be considered as software. We no more require either the source code or compiler once the executable code is generated. The executable code generated by the compiler can be copied on to any other computer  and can be used as software.



It is a simple program that reads the source code written in high level language statement by statement and translates into native executable code. The executable code produced by the interpreter is executed as it is generated. Interpreter accepts the input either from the user or from other source while interpreting the program. Need both the interpreter and the source code every time we execute the program.


                       Most of the high level languages like Pascal, FORTRAN, C and C++ use compilers to change the source code into native executable code. Most of the scripting languages like Perl, JavaScript and VBScript use interpreters.


Portability is the ability of using the same code for different CPU’s belongs to different architecture.

Both machine and assembly languages are not portable because instructions differ for different CPU’s. For example, MIPS architecture needs 32bit instruction. Where as x86 architecture, needs variable length instruction.

C is a portable language because the same code with no or little change can be used for different CPU’s of different architecture.


Platform dependency:

Combination of operating system and architecture that forms an environment to execute a program is generally termed as platform. It is known as different platforms if there is a difference in either architecture or operating system.

The compiler translates the source code into native executable code according to the local platform. Executable code generated for one platform may not work on another platform. For example executable code generated on windows will not work on Linux system, executable code generated on Intel architecture may not work on Macintosh PowerPC.

If UNIX wants to work on different architectures then, it must be compiled on different platforms.

Most of the high level languages like Pascal, FORTRAN, COBOL, C and C++ are platform dependents. While developing software using these languages, source must be compiled on different platforms to make different builds.

The bellow picture is a snap shot from eclipse official site (www.eclipse.org). It provides different builds for different operating systems (Windows, Linux, and Mac OSX) and different architectures (32bit and 64bit).


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