What is Interpreter? Definition, Advantages and Disadvantages

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What is Interpreter? Definition, Advantages and Disadvantages

Vinay Khatri
Last updated on November 15, 2022

    High-level programming language like Java, Python, C++, PHP, and JavaScript are more human-friendly, which mean these languages are readable and understandable by a human. But the computer does not understand high-level programming languages it only understands 1 and 0.

    So, the question is how the computer understands all the code written by these high-level programming languages, it uses translators like compilers and interpreters, which convert that human-written code into machine language code.

    What is an Interpreter?

    An interpreter is a computer program that is used to execute the written code or program line by line. The interesting thing about the interpreter is that it executes the program line by line, which means it reads a line from the code and executes it simultaneously.

    The line-by-line code execution makes debugging easier in the interpreter because it stops execution where it found the error, and the developer can visit that line directly to debug. Programming languages like Perl, MATLAB, Python, and Ruby use an interpreter to execute their code.


    • An interpreter makes debugging very easy since it executes the program line-by-line.
    • An interpreter uses less memory to execute the program because it does not generate a new separate file like a compiler. It executes the program on the fly.
    • It comes in very handy when we want a program to test the outputs.


    • The biggest disadvantage of interpreters is their speed compared to the compiler performance, which is very slow.
    • It is not secure since it does not create a separate file of the program. Therefore, you need to share the source code directly.


    An interpreter executes the program on the fly without converting it into machine code. It executes any program line-by-line and stops the execution if there is an error, which makes debugging easy.

    We hope this article has helped you understand what an interpreter is, along with its advantages and disadvantages.

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    An interpreter is a computer program that translates code written in a high-level programming language into machine code line by line or instruction by instruction.

    A compiler is a computer program that translates the entire source code into machine code in a single run.

    An interpreted language is a programming language in which the instructions are directly executed without the need for compilation.

    Some examples of interpreted languages are PHP, Ruby, Python, and JavaScript.

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