Python vs Cpython
So what is CPython?
CPython is the original Python implementation. It is the implementation you download from Python.org. People call it CPython to distinguish it from other, later, Python implementations, and to distinguish the implementation of the language engine from the Python programming language itself.
The latter part is where your confusion comes from; you need to keep Python-the-language separate from whatever runs the Python code.
CPython happens to be implemented in C. That is just an implementation detail, really. CPython compiles your Python code into bytecode (transparently) and interprets that bytecode in a evaluation loop.
CPython is also the first to implement new features; Python-the-language development uses CPython as the base; other implementations follow.
What about Jython, etc.?
Jython, IronPython and PyPy are the current "other" implementations of the Python programming language; these are implemented in Java, C# and RPython (a subset of Python), respectively. Jython compiles your Python code to Java bytecode, so your Python code can run on the JVM. IronPython lets you run Python on the Microsoft CLR. And PyPy, being implemented in (a subset of) Python, lets you run Python code faster than CPython, which rightly should blow your mind. :-)
Actually compiling to C
So CPython does not translate your Python code to C by itself. Instead, it runs an interpreter loop. There is a project that does translate Python-ish code to C, and that is called Cython. Cython adds a few extensions to the Python language, and lets you compile your code to C extensions, code that plugs into the CPython interpreter.
You need to distinguish between a language and an implementation. Python is a language,
According to Wikipedia, "A programming language is a notation for writing programs, which are specifications of a computation or algorithm". This means that it's simply the rules and syntax for writing code. Separately we have a programming language implementation which in most cases, is the actual interpreter or compiler.
Python is a language.CPython is the implementation of Python in C. Jython is the implementation in Java, and so on.
To sum up: You are already using CPython (if you downloaded from here).
Even I had the same problem understanding how are CPython, JPython, IronPython, PyPy are different from each other.
So, I am willing to clear three things before I begin to explain:
- Python: It is a language, it only states/describes how to convey/express yourself to the interpreter (the program which accepts your python code).
- Implementation: It is all about how the interpreter was written, specifically, in what language and what it ends up doing.
- Bytecode: It is the code that is processed by a program, usually referred to as a virtual machine, rather than by the "real" computer machine, the hardware processor.
CPython is the implementation, which was written in C language. It ends up producing bytecode (stack-machine based instruction set) which is Python specific and then executes it. The reason to convert Python code to a bytecode is because it's easier to implement an interpreter if it looks like machine instructions. But, it isn't necessary to produce some bytecode prior to execution of the Python code (but CPython does produce).
If you want to look at CPython's bytecode then you can. Here's how you can:
def f(x, y): # line 1 print("Hello") # line 2 if x: # line 3 y += x # line 4 print(x, y) # line 5 return x+y # line 6 # line 7import dis # line 8dis.dis(f) # line 9 2 0 LOAD_GLOBAL 0 (print) 2 LOAD_CONST 1 ('Hello') 4 CALL_FUNCTION 1 6 POP_TOP 3 8 LOAD_FAST 0 (x) 10 POP_JUMP_IF_FALSE 20 4 12 LOAD_FAST 1 (y) 14 LOAD_FAST 0 (x) 16 INPLACE_ADD 18 STORE_FAST 1 (y) 5 >> 20 LOAD_GLOBAL 0 (print) 22 LOAD_FAST 0 (x) 24 LOAD_FAST 1 (y) 26 CALL_FUNCTION 2 28 POP_TOP 6 30 LOAD_FAST 0 (x) 32 LOAD_FAST 1 (y) 34 BINARY_ADD36 RETURN_VALUE
Now, let's have a look at the above code. Lines 1 to 6 are a function definition. In line 8, we import the 'dis' module which can be used to view the intermediate Python bytecode (or you can say, disassembler for Python bytecode) that is generated by CPython (interpreter).
NOTE: I got the link to this code from #python IRC channel: https://gist.github.com/nedbat/e89fa710db0edfb9057dc8d18d979f9c
And then, there is Jython, which is written in Java and ends up producing Java byte code. The Java byte code runs on Java Runtime Environment, which is an implementation of Java Virtual Machine (JVM). If this is confusing then I suspect that you have no clue how Java works. In layman terms, Java (the language, not the compiler) code is taken by the Java compiler and outputs a file (which is Java byte code) that can be run only using a JRE. This is done so that, once the Java code is compiled then it can be ported to other machines in Java byte code format, which can be only run by JRE. If this is still confusing then you may want to have a look at this web page.
Here, you may ask if the CPython's bytecode is portable like Jython, I suspect not. The bytecode produced in CPython implementation was specific to that interpreter for making it easy for further execution of code (I also suspect that, such intermediate bytecode production, just for the ease the of processing is done in many other interpreters).
So, in Jython, when you compile your Python code, you end up with Java byte code, which can be run on a JVM.
Similarly, IronPython (written in C# language) compiles down your Python code to Common Language Runtime (CLR), which is a similar technology as compared to JVM, developed by Microsoft.