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Table of contents
Interpreter in Java
Compiler in Java
Differences between Compiler and Interpreter
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the main difference between Compiler and Interpreter in Java?
What is Bytecode in Compiler in Java?
Can a Java program be executed without a Compiler or an Interpreter?
Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024

Difference between Compiler and Interpreter in Java

Author Aayush Sharma
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Java is a high-level, object-oriented, and platform-independent language developed in the mid-1990s by Sun Microsystems. Java is a programming language used for its versatility. One key aspect of Java is how it executes code. In Java, there are two ways to run code which we are going to discuss in this blog: through an interpreter and a compiler.

difference between compiler and interpreter in java

This blog will discuss the difference between a compiler and an interpreter in Java. Understanding this will help us improve our code's efficiency and memory usage. But first, let us discuss Interpreter and Compiler in detail.

Also see, Duck Number in Java

Interpreter in Java

An Interpreter is a software that reads and executes lines of code written in the program one at a time. The Interpreter converts each line of code into machine code, which is then instantly executed. Up till the end of the execution, this is repeated throughout the entire program.

steps in interpretation

The usage of interpreters is common in Java prototyping and scripting languages. It is possible to run code line by line using an interpreter, a significant application. With no risk of the program being broken, the user can debug each code line separately. For rapid testing in Java, the Interpreter is a beneficial tool because of this.

The Interpreter does not require compilation, which is the significant distinction between it and the compiler. This helps to reduce the overhead time needed for compiling, saving much time during prototyping.

Now that we have discussed the advantages of Interpreters, we will also discuss some of their disadvantages. One significant disadvantage of an interpreter is that it must repeatedly translate each line of code into machine code. This adds considerable overhead in the execution time of a program in Java, and as a result, the interpreted code runs much slower than compiled code. This same feature also increases the program's memory usage as it has to store the entire program in the memory for the duration while it is executing.

The same feature of line-by-line execution by the Interpreter is both helpful and potentially problematic, depending on the situation. This feature of the Interpreter makes it an easy tool for quick debugging. Moreover, programming languages like Python rely extensively on interpreters for their execution.

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Compiler in Java

Now that we know about Interpreters in Java, we will discuss Compilers in Java in this section. In the next section, we will see the difference between compilers and interpreters in Java. A Compiler is software that translates high-level programming-level code into machine-readable instructions that a computer can execute. In the context of Java, the compiler converts human-readable code into machine-readable code that can be interpreted by the Java Virtual Machine (JVM)JVM is a machine that provides a runtime environment for executing Java programs.

Unlike the Interpretation process, which includes line-by-line execution of code, the compilation process requires several steps. There are mainly five steps in the compilation process. We are going to discuss each of these steps in brief.

steps in compilation

Step 1: Lexical Analysis

In the first step, the compiler reads the source code and distinguishes the program into individual tokens like keywords, identifiers, operators, etc.

Step 2: Syntax Analysis

This step includes checking the grammar of the source code to make sure it follows the proper syntax rules of the Java language.

Step 3: Semantic Analysis

The compiler performs this step to ensure that the code follows the rules of the Java language, like assigning the correct variable type, correct function declaration and calling, etc.

Step 4: Optimization

In this step, the compiler optimizes the generated low-level code and tries to modify it to make it faster in execution and improve the memory efficiency of the code.

Step 5: Code Generation

Once the source code passes the syntax and semantic checks, the compiler generates bytecode, the low-level version of the source code understood by the computer.

After each stage, the machine code is saved in a file with the ".class" extension that the JVM may run. The fact that a compiler produces optimized code with improved performance and memory economy than an interpreter is one of its key advantages over the latter. Because of this, it is a superior option for complicated applications. Any platform that supports the Java Virtual Machine may execute the compiled code.

The debugging tool, on the other hand, is the compiler's biggest drawback. Before starting the compilation process, any faults or mistakes in the code must be fixed. Debugging might be more challenging than interpretation in this case.

Differences between Compiler and Interpreter

Now that we have discussed compiler and Interpreter, we will discuss the critical differences between compiler and Interpreter in Java. The main differences between the compiler and Interpreter in Java are represented in the table below.



The Interpreter executes the source code, one line at a time.

The compiler first translates the entire source code to machine code and then produces an executable file that contains the machine code.

The Interpreter does not generate an executable file.

The compiler generates an executable file that can be run multiple times.

The Interpreter provides easy debugging as it runs code line by line.

Debugging is comparatively time-consuming because the entire source code runs together.

Interpreter code is generally slower to run.

Compiler code is faster to run as it can be directly executed.

Interpreter requires less memory as it does not generate any executable.

The compiler requires more memory due to the executable file.

No code optimization in the Interpreter results in slower execution time.

Faster execution time due to code optimization during the compiling process.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the main difference between Compiler and Interpreter in Java?

The main difference between Compiler and Interpreter in Java is how they translate the source code into machine-readable code. This is a line-by-line process in an interpreter, whereas the compiler converts the complete code into an executable only once.

What is Bytecode in Compiler in Java?

Bytecode is a machine-independent code the compiler generates whenever it translates high-level source code into machine-readable code. It can be executed on any platform which supports the Java Virtual Machine (JVM).

Can a Java program be executed without a Compiler or an Interpreter?

The compiler and the Interpreter are the only way to execute code in Java. To run a program, the source code must be compiled to generate an executable or interpreted line by line before execution in Java. There is no other method that can execute a program in Java.


In this article, we discussed the difference between Compiler and Interpreter in Java. Firstly we discussed Interpreters and Compilers in detail, their advantages, disadvantages, and use cases. In the end, we concluded by discussing the key differences between Interpreter and Compiler and Java. So now that you have learned about the difference between Interpreter and a compiler in Java, you can also refer to similar articles.


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