Compiler or interpreter?

glen herrmannsfeldt <>
Sun, 13 Jun 2010 21:28:31 +0000 (UTC)

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Compiler or interpreter? (glen herrmannsfeldt) (2010-06-13)
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From: glen herrmannsfeldt <>
Newsgroups: comp.compilers
Date: Sun, 13 Jun 2010 21:28:31 +0000 (UTC)
Organization: NNTP Server
Keywords: interpreter
Posted-Date: 14 Jun 2010 12:59:50 EDT

There is a discussion in another newsgroup about the first true
compiler for the PDP-11. Without trying to start a big argument,
I wonder what others have to say about the distinction.

In a discussion many years ago, I was convinced that it is more
a continuum than a discreet disctintion. (one or the other).
Among others, that systems using library calls to implement
source statements (for example, Fortran I/O) are not 100% compilers.
(Especially as FORMAT descriptions are usually interpreted.)

More specific to the above mentioned discussion, is that many of
the early DEC systems used threaded code. Does threaded code
count as compiler or interpreter?

I am hoping for a constructive discussion, though a possible
answer is that one should not ask.

-- glen

[Seems to me that if you disqualify compilers because they generate
calls to runtime libraries, you'll have precious few compilers left.
Having hacked a certain amount on the old Unix threaded code Fortran
system, the compiler was definitely a compiler, parsed the source
code, made a symbol table, and generated object code. The stuff that
the threaded code called was an interpreter. -John]

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