Execution (computing)

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Execution in the computing world signifies the procedure through which a computer implements instructions. The process initiates with the development of programs in source code, subsequently compiled into an executable file. The operating system loads this file into the computer’s memory and executes it from its starting point until it either concludes normally or experiences a crash. The execution process operates within a specific context, frequently within multitasking operating systems, and employs resources such as runtime libraries. During execution, the computer abides by the fetch-decode-execute cycle, with different programming languages addressing potential errors in distinct manners. Execution also encompasses a runtime system that establishes an environment for the program to function in and regulates application memory and variable access. Some execution procedures may incorporate interpreters, executing programs directly without translation, or virtual machines, mimicking the operations of a physical computer.

Execution in computer and software engineering is the process by which a computer or virtual machine interpret and acts on the instructions of a computer program. Each instruction of a program is a description of a particular action which must be carried out, in order for a specific problem to be solved. Execution involves repeatedly following a "fetch–decode–execute" cycle for each instruction done by control unit. As the executing machine follows the instructions, specific effects are produced in accordance with the semantics of those instructions.

Programs for a computer may be executed in a batch process without human interaction or a user may type commands in an interactive session of an interpreter. In this case, the "commands" are simply program instructions, whose execution is chained together.

The term run is used almost synonymously. A related meaning of both "to run" and "to execute" refers to the specific action of a user starting (or launching or invoking) a program, as in "Please run the application."

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