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Computer software that translates (compiles) source code written in a high-level language (e.g., C++) into a set of machine-language instructions that can be understood by a digital computer's CPU. Compilers are very large programs, with error-checking and other abilities. Some compilers translate high-level language into an intermediate assembly language, which is then translated (assembled) into machine code by an assembly program or assembler. Other compilers generate machine language directly.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on compiler, visit Britannica.com.