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Difference between Machine Language and Assembly Language

Updated Mar 31, 2020

Programming languages are used for creating instructions to make computers perform specific tasks. These languages can be categorized as machine language, high-level programming language, and assembly language. 

Through this article, we aim to make our readers gain more knowledge about the definitions of machine language and assembly language, the difference between assembly language and machine language, and their key features and functionality.

Machine Language vs. Assembly Language

Basis of Difference Machine Language Assembly Language
Level of programming language Machine language ranks as the lowest level programming language. In this language, instructions are executed directly via the Central Processing Unit. Assembly language refers to a low-level programming language that needs an assembler for converting the instructions to machine or object codes.
Ease of comprehension Machine language cannot be deciphered by humans and can be comprehended only by computers. Assembly language can be understood, used, and applied by humans.
Nature of syntax Machine languages comprise of binary digits 0s and 1s. Assembly languages have a syntax that is similar to the English language; therefore, they can be understood by programmers and users alike.
Dependency Machine languages are platform-dependent, and their features vary accordingly. Assembly language comprises of standard instruction sets.
Areas of application Machine language serves as a machine code only. Assembly languages are used for real-time systems and microprocessor-based applications/ devices.
Usage of mnemonics Machine language uses sequences of bits for giving commands. One depicts the true or on the state; on the other hand, zero depicts the false or off state. The conversion of high-level programming language to machine language is dependent on the CPU. “Mnemonics” are not required in machine language. Assembly language does not require users to remember op-codes. It uses “mnemonics” names and symbols rather than raw sequences of bits. The codes in assembly languages are slightly more readable and can be mapped to machine code by humans.
Generation of programming language Machine languages are first-generation programming languages. Assembly languages are second-generation programming languages.
Modification Machine language does not support any change. An assembly programming language can be modified easily.
Risk of errors The risk of errors existing in the syntax of machine language is high. The risk of errors existing in assembly language is comparatively low.
Memorization Binary codes cannot be memorized. It is possible to memorize the commands given in assembly languages.
Compiler No compiler is necessary for executing commands. A compiler, also known as an assembler, is needed for the proper execution of assembly language commands.

What is Machine Language?

The machine language definition states that for computers to understand the commands provided in high-level languages like Java, C, C++, Python, the instructions have to be given in machine language that comprises of bits. The conversion of a high-level language to machine language takes place by using an interpreter or compiler.

  • Machine language comprises of zeros and ones. As computers are in the form of digital electronic devices, they use these binary digits for their operations.
  • In machine language, one showcases the true or on state while zero depicts the false or off state.
  • The method of converting high-level language programs to machine language codes is dependent on the CPU.

What is Assembly Language?

The assembly language definition states that it acts as the intermediate language between machine language and high-level programming languages. In comparison to machine language, assembly language is easier to comprehend and use; however, it is more complicated than high-level programming languages.

  • Assembly language is referred to as low-level language because it is closer to the hardware level.
  • Programmers using assembly language codes should have an understanding of register structure and computer architecture.
  • A specialized compiler termed as an assembler is needed for converting assembly language commands to object code or machine code.
  • Assembly language statements comprise four sections. These are mnemonic, operand, label, and comment (the last two sections are optional).
  • Mnemonics in assembly language provide instructions to execute commands; operands are parameters put in use for the command.
  • Assembly languages also support macros that are a set of commands with a name.

Key Difference between Assembly Language and Machine Language

  1. Machine language is also known as machine code. It is a sequence of bit patterns that are used for providing instructions to the processor of a computer. These sequences of binary digits are not human readable.
  2. The op-codes present in machine language is not present in an assembly language, which is almost similar to machine codes. However, “mnemonics” are used instead of op-codes to translate assembly language instructions into more human-readable codes. These codes are then mapped onto the machine code.
  3. Typically, every line of an assembly language code is used for representing one CPU instruction. An assembler or computer program is written for translating the commands present in mnemonic assembly language into their binary equivalents. The binary commands are understood and implemented by the CPU.
  4. A compiler is required for translating the codes written in a high-level language to machine language or assembly language. The programs in assembly language are translated to machine language via an assembler, which is a pre-written program as well.


An understanding of the definition, features, and functions of assembly and machine language is necessary for job applicants appearing for interviews. In case you have any further queries related to assembly language or machine language, please write to us in the Comments section given below. Our team will help you figure out more differences between an assembly programming language and machine programming language. We shall wait to hear from you!