/Interpreter Pattern

Interpreter Pattern

In computer programming, the interpreter pattern is a particular design pattern. The interpreter pattern specifies how to evaluate sentences in a language. The basic idea is to have a class for each symbol (terminal or nonterminal) in a specialized computer language. The syntax tree of a sentence in the language is an instance of the composite pattern and is used to evaluate (interpret) the sentence.

The Interpreter Pattern defines a grammatical representation for a language and an interpreter to interpret the grammar. The best example you can get for this is Java itself which is an interpreted language. It converts the code written in English to a byte code format so as to make possible for all the operating systems to understand it. This quality of it makes it platform independent.

The development of languages can be done when you find different cases but, somewhat similar, it is advantageous to use a simple language which can be interpreted by the system and can deal with all these cases at the same time.

To make this interpreter clearer, let’s take an example. The “musical notes” is an “Interpreted Language”. The musicians read the notes, interpret them according to “Sa, Re, Ga, Ma…” or “Do, Re, Me… ” etc and play the instruments, what we get in output is musical sound waves. Think of a program which can take the Sa, Re, Ga, Ma etc and produce the sounds for the frequencies.

For Sa, the frequency is 256 Hz, similarly, for Re, it is 288Hz and for Ga, it is 320 Hz etc etc…

In this, case, we need these values set somewhere so, that when the system encounters any one of these messages, we can just send the related frequency to the instrument playing the frequency.

We can have it at one of the two places, one is a constants file, “token=value” and the other one being in a properties file. The properties file can give us more flexibility to change it later if required.

This is how a properties file will look like:

# Musical Notes Properties file
# This denotes the frequencies of musical notes in Hz
Here are the other classes used for this system:
package bahavioral.interpreter;
public class NotesInterpreter {
private Note note;
* This method gets the note from the keys pressed.
* Them, this sets it at a global level.
public void getNoteFromKeys(Note note) {
Frequency freq = getFrequency(note);
* This method gets the frequency for the note.
* Say, if the note is “Sa”, it will return 256.
private Frequency getFrequency(Note note) {
// Get the frequency from properties
// file using ResourceBundle
// and return it.
return freq;
* This method forwards the frequency to the
* sound producer which is some electronic instrument which
* plays the sound.
private void sendNote(Frequency freq) {
NotesProducer producer = new NotesProducer();
}// End of class
package bahavioral.interpreter;
public class NotesProducer {
private Frequency freq;
public NotesProducer() {
this.freq = freq;
* This method produces the sound wave of the
* frequency it gets.
public void playSound(Frequency freq) {
}// End of class

This is how an interpreter pattern works in its most simple implementation. If you are using interpreter pattern, you need checks for grammatical mistakes etc. This can make it very complex. Also, care should be taken to make the interpreter as flexible as possible, so that the implementation can be changed at later stages without having tight coupling.

Other advantage of Interpreter is that you can have more than one interpreter for the same output and create the object of interpreter based on the input. E.g. “Sa” or “Do” can also be implemented as “Download” activity in some other language. In this case, you can use same input and different outputs by getting the proper interpreter from the InterpreterFactory.