What is a Compiler?

Computers don't really understand or execute C programs directly. Before you can have the computer run a C program, you first need to use a compiler to translate that program into another language that the computer does understand. That other language is called ``machine language.''

A compiler is a special program that translates programs written in C (or some other programming language) into programs written in machine language. There is a different compiler for each kind of programming language.

You might be wondering why people don't write programs in ``machine language.''

Click here for the answer.

Eric N. Eide
Hamlet Project
Department of Computer Science
University of Utah