Stanford University: Keith Schwarz's "CS143 Course Overview"

Read the CS143 Course Overview handout. You have studied the lecture "Introduction to Compilers" already. The handout gives an overview of the structure of a compiler with a good explanation.

This overview describes the front-end process, or analysis stage, of the compilation process. The intermediate code used as an example is TAC, three-address code. The front end, or analysis, consists of lexical analysis, syntax analysis or parsing, semantic analysis, and intermediate code generation. Lexical analysis may be preceded by preprocessing, depending on the language and the development environment.

It also explains the back-end, or synthesis state, of the compilation process, which includes intermediate code optimization, object code generation, and object code optimization. The symbol table and error-handling topics apply to both the front end and to the back end. The section on one-pass versus multi-pass complements the previous explanation of the number of "passes" that a compiler uses.

The handout also has a very good section on history, which helps us understand why the structure of a compiler is as described in previous sections. Read the Historical Perspective section, which shows the important influence of programming languages on the development of compilers.