How is Python an interpreted language?

22/06/2024 0 By indiafreenotes

Python is considered an interpreted language because its code is executed by an interpreter at runtime rather than being compiled into machine code beforehand.

Interpreter Workflow:

  1. Source Code Execution:

When you write Python code, you create a script or a program in a .py file. This file contains human-readable instructions written in Python’s syntax.

  1. Interactive Interpreter:

Python can be executed interactively, meaning you can write and execute one line or block of code at a time using the Python shell (REPL – Read-Eval-Print Loop). This is particularly useful for testing and debugging small code snippets.

  1. Bytecode Compilation:

When you run a Python program, the Python interpreter first translates the human-readable source code into an intermediate form called bytecode. Bytecode is a lower-level, platform-independent representation of your source code.

This bytecode compilation happens automatically and is typically stored in .pyc files in the __pycache__ directory.

  1. Execution by Python Virtual Machine (PVM):

The bytecode is then executed by the Python Virtual Machine (PVM). The PVM is an interpreter that reads the bytecode and translates it into machine code instructions that the host computer’s processor can execute.

Characteristics of an Interpreted Language:

  • Dynamic Typing:

Python is dynamically typed, meaning the type of a variable is interpreted at runtime based on the variable’s value. This flexibility is common in interpreted languages.

  • Ease of Debugging:

Since Python code is executed line-by-line, it’s easier to identify and fix errors. The interpreter can provide immediate feedback, making debugging more straightforward.

  • Portability:

Python’s bytecode is platform-independent, allowing the same Python program to run on different operating systems without modification. The interpreter abstracts away the underlying hardware details.

  • Development Speed:

Without the need for a separate compilation step, Python allows for rapid development and testing. Developers can quickly iterate on their code, making changes and seeing results immediately.

Comparison with Compiled Languages:

In compiled languages like C or C++, the source code is translated into machine code by a compiler before it is run. This machine code is specific to the processor and operating system, making it non-portable. The compilation process can also be time-consuming, as it needs to be done before the program can be executed.