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1 definition found
 for interpreter
From The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing (30 December 2018) :

  interpreter
  interpreted
  
      A program which executes other programs.  This
     is in contrast to a compiler which does not execute its
     input program (the "{source code") but translates it into
     executable "{machine code" (also called "{object code}")
     which is output to a file for later execution.  It may be
     possible to execute the same source code either directly by an
     interpreter or by compiling it and then executing the machine
     code produced.
  
     It takes longer to run a program under an interpreter than to
     run the compiled code but it can take less time to interpret
     it than the total required to compile and run it.  This is
     especially important when prototyping and testing code when an
     edit-interpret-debug cycle can often be much shorter than an
     edit-compile-run-debug cycle.
  
     Interpreting code is slower than running the compiled code
     because the interpreter must analyse each statement in the
     program each time it is executed and then perform the desired
     action whereas the compiled code just performs the action.
     This run-time analysis is known as "interpretive overhead".
     Access to variables is also slower in an interpreter because
     the mapping of identifiers to storage locations must be done
     repeatedly at run time rather than at compile time.
  
     There are various compromises between the development speed
     when using an interpreter and the execution speed when using a
     compiler.  Some systems (e.g. some Lisps) allow interpreted
     and compiled code to call each other and to share variables.
     This means that once a routine has been tested and debugged
     under the interpreter it can be compiled and thus benefit from
     faster execution while other routines are being developed.
     Many interpreters do not execute the source code as it stands
     but convert it into some more compact internal form.  For
     example, some BASIC interpreters replace keywords with
     single byte tokens which can be used to index into a jump
     table.  An interpreter might well use the same lexical
     analyser and parser as the compiler and then interpret the
     resulting abstract syntax tree.
  
     There is thus a spectrum of possibilities between interpreting
     and compiling, depending on the amount of analysis performed
     before the program is executed.  For example Emacs Lisp is
     compiled to "{byte-code" which is a highly compressed and
     optimised representation of the Lisp source but is not machine
     code (and therefore not tied to any particular hardware).
     This "compiled" code is then executed (interpreted) by a byte
     code interpreter (itself written in C).  The compiled code
     in this case is machine code for a virtual machine which
     is implemented not in hardware but in the byte-code
     interpreter.
  
     See also partial evaluation.
  
     (1995-01-30)
  

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