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Guide to the Miracle C Compiler

Compiler Basics

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Your computer cannot understand the instructions contained in a source file, because C is a high-level language--that is, it contains characters, symbols, and words that represent complex, numbers-based instructions. The only instructions a computer can execute are those written in machine language, consisting entirely of numbers. Before your computer can carry out your C program, your compiler must convert your source file into an object file; then a related program called a linker (which comes with the compiler) must convert the object file into an executable file.

The drawing below illustrates the process.