The first and most important thing of all, at least for writers today, is to strip language clean, to lay it bare down to the bone.
Programs start as a set of instructions written by a human being. Before they can be used by the computer, they must undergo several transformations. In this chapter, we’ll learn how to enter a program, transform it into something the machine can use, and run it. Detailed steps are provided for the most popular UNIX and DOS/Windows compilers.
C programs are written in a high-level language using letters, numbers, and the other symbols you find on a computer keyboard. Computers actually execute a very low-level language called machine code (a series of numbers). So, before a program level can be used, it must undergo several transformations.
Programs start out as an idea in a programmer’s head. He uses a text editor to write his thoughts into a file called a source file, containing source code. This file is transformed by the compiler into an object file. Next, a program called the linker takes the object file, combines it with predefined routines from a standard library, and produces an executable program (a set of machine-language instructions). In the following sections, we’ll see how these various forms of the program work together to produce the final program.
Figure 2-1 shows the steps that must be taken to transform a program written in a high-level language ...