A translator is a program which takes in some source code and translates it into machine understandable instructions. Source code written in different languages like C++, Java, VB .NET or Delphi must be translated before the computer can understand them. This process is quite involved and borrows many ideas from different parts of computer science. There are two main breeds of translator. A compiler and an interpreter. Each handles the job of translating source code into machine code in different ways.

When code is written by a programmer, it is written in a format which is understandable by a human. The more readable the language is to a human the more high level it is. Object code, which the computer understands, is known as a low level language.