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10.4.2: Compiled vs Interpreted

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  • Compiled vs. Interpreted

    Besides classifying a program language based on its generation, it can also be classified by whether it is compiled or interpreted. As we have learned, a computer language is written in a human-readable form. In a compiled language, the program code is translated into a machine-readable form called an executable that can be run on the hardware. Some well-known compiled languages include C, C++, and COBOL.

    An interpreted language is one that requires a runtime program to be installed in order to execute. This runtime program then interprets the program code line by line and runs it. Interpreted languages are generally easier to work with but also are slower and require more system resources. Examples of popular interpreted languages include BASIC, PHP, PERL, and Python. The web languages of HTML and Javascript would also be considered interpreted because they require a browser in order to run.

    The Java programming language is an interesting exception to this classification, as it is actually a hybrid of the two. A program written in Java is partially compiled to create a program that can be understood by the Java Virtual Machine (JVM). Each type of operating system has its own JVM which must be installed, which is what allows Java programs to run on many different types of operating systems.