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> Isn't the AST there, but just hidden?

I can see what you're arguing, but I think this is so abstract as to not really be meaningful. At no point is there a tree data structure. I suppose there is one if you extend it into the fourth dimension :)

> And I'm curious what makes you say that an assembler doesn't count but source to source compilers do.

I think for me it's because an assembler doesn't have any choice about how to translate the program. A compiler has more freedom for how to translate the program.

I'd then say a transpiler is a form of compiler, but an assembler is not.

> And finally, yeah I've seen references going back to the sixties, but they're almost always marketing literature.

See for example The Communication of Algorithms by A F Parker-Rhodes, 1964. This is a peer-reviewed academic paper, not marketing material.

Anyone who tells you that transpiler is some kind of neologism invited by JavaScript developers who didn't know any better is the ignorant one themselves.

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