Python source code is compiled into bytecode, the internal representation of a Python program in the interpreter. The bytecode is also cached in .pyc and .pyo files so that executing the same file is faster the second time (recompilation from source to bytecode can be avoided). This “intermediate language” is said to run on a virtual machine that executes the machine code corresponding to each bytecode.
The canonical implementation of the Python programming language. The term “CPython” is used in contexts when necessary to distinguish this implementation from others such as Jython or IronPython.
See global interpreter lock.
global interpreter lock
The lock used by Python threads to assure that only one thread executes in the CPython virtual machine at a time. This simplifies the CPython implementation by assuring that no two processes can access the same memory at the same time. Locking the entire interpreter makes it easier for the interpreter to be multi-threaded, at the expense of much of the parallelism afforded by multi-processor machines. Efforts have been made in the past to create a “free-threaded” interpreter (one which locks shared data at a much finer granularity), but so far none have been successful because performance suffered in the common single-processor case.
virtual machine
A computer defined entirely in software. Python’s virtual machine executes the bytecode emitted by the bytecode compiler.