What Is A Compiler? Everything You Need To Know About Compilers

A compiler is a program that takes a program written in a programming language and converts it into instructions that can be executed on a computer

Compilers are necessary for converting source codes into machine-executable instructions since most high-level programming languages are not directly executable on computers. A compiler may either be built into the system (embedded) or external to it (hosted).

Compilers are usually integrated with other software systems such as an editor or an Integrated Development Environment (IDE). This way, users can easily modify their programs without having to manually modify both parts separately.

Table of Contents

  1. Types of Compilers
  2. Uses of Compilers
  3. Features of Compilers
  4. Benefits of Compilers

Types of compilers

There are different types of compilers, major ones include;

  1. Single pass compiler
  2. Two-pass compiler
  3. Multi-pass compiler

1. Single pass compiler

Single pass compilers are a type of compiler that produces machine code directly from source code.

The idea behind single pass compilers is that they can generate machine instructions directly from the source code and then use an optimizer to convert the generated machine instructions into an optimized executable file.

2. Two-pass compiler

The two-pass compiler is a compilation method that uses two passes to process each source file. The first pass creates all the intermediate data, and the second pass merges the intermediate data into an output file.

3 Multi-pass compiler

Multi-pass compilers are a type of compiler that performs multiple passes on the same input. The first pass converts the source code into a low-level intermediate representation (IL). This is followed by a second pass which converts the IL into machine code, and so on.

Multi-pass compilers are mainly used for the development of embedded systems and high-performance computing.

Uses of Compilers

Compilers are used for many purposes, including:

  • It handles data types, variable declarations, control statements, comments, and other aspects of your source program that are necessary for compiling it into an executable file.
  • It creates files containing the compiled information including text files with filenames like “C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 10\vcvarsall\bin\Debug\vcvars32data” and “C:\Program
  • Compiling source code into object files (.o)
  • Generating assembly language (.s) for the processor(s) of the target machine(s)
  • Translating other languages (such as Java or C++) into machine code (instructions) for the target processor(s)

Features of Compilers

1. High performance and low latency

A compiler converts a high-level source program into machine language or assembly language. Many compilers can convert programs written in a variety of high-level languages such as C and Fortran into machine code or assembly language. This makes them faster because they can run more instructions per cycle (IPC).

2. Compiler efficiency

Compilers also generate better error messages than humans could write; this improves developer productivity because you don’t have to spend time debugging your code.

3. Portability

A compiler that runs on Linux will run on Windows too — provided you use the same underlying operating system.

4. Optimization

The compiler will optimize your program at run time by removing unneeded code and variables.

5. Linking

The linker is a utility program that links together different object files into a single executable file or library file.

6. Dynamic Loading

Programs can be dynamically linked at run time when they are loaded into memory or executed (link time).

7. Syntax checking

This checks for errors in the syntax of a source program and reports them as errors if any are detected.

8. Code generation

This creates an executable file from a machine language text file by translating it into machine language instructions.

Benefits Of Compilers

The main benefits of using compilers are:

  • Higher performance

The time required to compile your program can be significantly reduced if you use a compiler, as opposed to writing the code directly in C++ or another language.

  • Faster development time

Faster development time means that you can get your software out the door more quickly, which is especially important for businesses that have tight deadlines for their products.

  • Improved maintainability and reliability

Compilers allow programmers to make sure that the programs they write work across multiple platforms and operating systems with minimal changes needed on their part. This makes it easier to develop programs that run on multiple devices, such as desktops, laptops, smartphones, and tablets.

  • Reduced costs of maintenance and support

Because developers can test their programs with compilers before they release them publicly, they can take advantage of bug fixes immediately after they are made available by third-party vendors who develop applications on top of these programs.

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