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In computer programming, a runtime system, also called runtime environment, primarily implements portions of an execution model.[clarification needed] This is not to be confused with the runtime lifecycle phase of a program, during which the runtime system is in operation. When treating the runtime system as distinct from the runtime environment (RTE), the first may be defined as a specific part of the application software (IDE) used for programming, a piece of software that provides the programmer a more convenient environment for running programs during their production (testing and similar) while the second (RTE) would be the very instance of an execution model being applied to the developed program which is itself then run in the aforementioned runtime system.
Most programming languages have some form of runtime system that provides an environment in which programs run. This environment may address a number of issues including the management of application memory, how the program accesses variables, mechanisms for passing parameters between procedures, interfacing with the operating system, and otherwise. The compiler makes assumptions depending on the specific runtime system to generate correct code. Typically the runtime system will have some responsibility for setting up and managing the stack and heap, and may include features such as garbage collection, threads or other dynamic features built into the language.
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