<programming, tool> A program that converts another program from some
source language (or programming language) to machine language (object code).
Some compilers output assembly language which is then converted to machine
language by a separate assembler.
A compiler is distinguished from an assembler by the fact that each input
statement does not, in general, correspond to a single machine instruction or
fixed sequence of instructions. A compiler may support such features as
automatic allocation of variables, arbitrary arithmetic expressions, control
structures such as FOR and WHILE loops, variable scope, input/ouput operations,
higher-order functions and portability of source code.
AUTOCODER, written in 1952, was possibly the first primitive compiler. Laning
and Zierler's compiler, written in 1953-1954, was possibly the first true
working algebraic compiler.
See also byte-code compiler, native compiler, optimising compiler.
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