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Programming Perl, 3rd Edition by Jon Orwant, Tom Christiansen, Larry Wall

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Chapter 18. Compiling

If you came here looking for a Perl compiler, you may be surprised to discover that you already have one--your perl program (typically /usr/bin/perl) already contains a Perl compiler. That might not be what you were thinking, and if it wasn't, you may be pleased to know that we do also provide code generators (which some well-meaning folks call "compilers"), and we'll discuss those toward the end of this chapter. But first we want to talk about what we think of as The Compiler. Inevitably there's going to be a certain amount of low-level detail in this chapter that some people will be interested in, and some people will not. If you find that you're not, think of it as an opportunity to practice your speed-reading skills.

Imagine that you're a conductor who's ordered the score for a large orchestral work. When the box of music arrives, you find several dozen booklets, one for each member of the orchestra with just their part in it. But curiously, your master copy with all the parts is missing. Even more curiously, the parts you do have are written out using plain English instead of musical notation. Before you can put together a program for performance, or even give the music to your orchestra to play, you'll first have to translate the prose descriptions into the normal system of notes and bars. Then you'll need to compile the individual parts into one giant score so that you can get an idea of the overall program.

Similarly, when you hand the source code of ...

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