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GLOSSARY: Compiler

compiler is a computer program (or set of programs) that transforms source code written in a programming language (the source language) into another lower computer language (the target language, often having a binary form known as object code).

The source code is translated by the compiler into machine code and then the user has to run the executable program.

A program translated by a compiler tends to be much faster than an interpreter executing the same program; it is not uncommon for it to be ten times as fast. But there is a time delay as the program is compiled - time is only saved once the executable program has been saved.

Program faults caused by incorrect compiler behavior can be very difficult to track down and work around; therefore, compiler implementors invest a lot of time ensuring the correctness of their software.