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Interrupts (Computer Programming): What Are They?

green and black circuit board
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In the context of computer programming, an interrupt is a request sent to a computer’s processor to execute a certain block of code. This block of code that you are asking the processor to execute is called an Interrupt Service Routine (ISR).

Analogy for interrupts: You interrupt what someone is doing and ask them to complete some calculations for you. They may accept your request in a timely manner depending on how busy they are. If they are too busy, you will have to wait longer.

Interrupts are widely used in computer programming. However, they are generally present in lower-level programming languages such as C and Assembly Language. Interrupts exist in software written with higher-level languages. However, they are usually present in the machine code generated by the compiler. Interrupts are key to the operation of computer processors.

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