Browse Definitions:
Definition

decompile

To decompile is to convert executable (ready-to-run) program code (sometimes called object code ) into some form of higher-level programming language so that it can be read by a human. Decompilation is a type of reverse engineering that does the opposite of what a compiler does. The tool that accomplishes this is called a decompiler. A similar tool, called a disassembler, translates object code into assembler language. There are a number of different reasons for decompilation or disassembly, such as understanding a program, recovering the source code for purposes of archiving or updating, finding virus es, debugging programs, and translating obsolete code. Decompilation was first used in the 1960s to facilitate the migration of a program from one platform to another.

Decompilation is not always successful for a number of reasons. It is not possible to decompile all programs, and data and code are difficult to separate, because both are represented similarly in most current computer systems. The meaningful names that programmers give variable s and function s (to make them more easily identifiable) are not usually stored in an executable file, so they are not usually recovered in decompiling.

Decompilation is sometimes used unethically, to reproduce source code for reuse or adaptation without permission of the copyright holder. Programs can be designed to be resistant to decompilation through protective means such as obfuscation .

This was last updated in September 2005

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

SearchCompliance

  • smart contract

    A smart contract, also known as a cryptocontract, is a computer program that directly controls the transfer of digital currencies...

  • risk map (risk heat map)

    A risk map, also known as a risk heat map, is a data visualization tool for communicating specific risks an organization faces. A...

  • internal audit (IA)

    An internal audit (IA) is an organizational initiative to monitor and analyze its own business operations in order to determine ...

SearchSecurity

  • evil maid attack

    An evil maid attack is a security exploit that targets a computing device that has been shut down and left unattended.  An evil ...

  • Common Body of Knowledge (CBK)

    In security, Common Body of Knowledge (CBK) is a comprehensive framework of all the relevant subjects a security professional ...

  • rootkit

    A rootkit is a program or, more often, a collection of software tools that gives a threat actor remote access to and control over...

SearchHealthIT

  • value-based healthcare

    Value-based healthcare, also known as value-based care, is a payment model that rewards healthcare providers for providing ...

  • health informatics

    Health informatics is the practice of acquiring, studying and managing health data and applying medical concepts in conjunction ...

  • clinical trial

    A clinical trial, also known as a clinical research study, is a protocol to evaluate the effects and efficacy of experimental ...

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • crisis communication

    Crisis communication is a method of corresponding with people and organizations during a disruptive event to provide them with ...

  • Zerto

    Zerto is a storage software vendor that specializes in enterprise-class business continuity and disaster recovery in virtual and ...

  • crisis management plan (CMP)

    A crisis management plan (CMP) is a document that outlines the processes an organization will use to respond to a critical ...

SearchStorage

  • SSD write cycle

    An SSD write cycle is the process of programming data to a NAND flash memory chip in a solid-state storage device.

  • data storage

    Data storage is the collective methods and technologies that capture and retain digital information on electromagnetic, optical ...

  • hard disk

    A hard disk is part of a unit -- often called a disk drive, hard drive or hard disk drive -- that stores and provides relatively ...

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • hybrid hard disk drive (HDD)

    A hybrid hard disk drive is an electromechanical spinning hard disk that contains some amount of NAND Flash memory.

Close