Doctor Fortran in “The Modes, They are A-Changin'”

I have often said that my least-favorite feature of the Fortran language is “OPEN on a connected unit”. In most cases, programmers invoke this accidentally and are confused by its behavior. But it does provide a way to do something useful for which the language doesn’t provide an alternative. Let’s explore.

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Doctor Fortran in “Military Strength”

In my Twitter feed today was this gem from user @science_dot:

There is very little proper Fortran 77 in the world. Legacy Fortran almost always uses extension from MIL-STD-1753 and we should call most legacy Fortran “Fortran 80” to reflect when those compiler features would have been broadly available.

I agree completely – nearly every bit of code I see someone call “FORTRAN 77” isn’t at all. Sure, there are the obvious things such as INTEGER*4 and STRUCTURE/RECORD that are extensions that never made it into any standard. But I’ll often see INCLUDE or END DO, which were also not part of FORTRAN 77; they were part of another standard, MIL-STD-1753.

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Doctor Fortran in “Forward!”

Welcome to the new home of the Doctor Fortran blog! Given that I have been retired from Intel for more than three years, it seemed appropriate to give my posts their own home on my web site. With Intel’s permission, I have copied here the posts I wrote while I was an employee. (Apparently four of those posts had been deleted – I was able to recover one of them.)

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Doctor Fortran in “Larger Than Life”

Stan Whitlock 1948-2018

I hate writing these, but as the years go on there will be more.

Stan Whitlock passed away yesterday (September 3, 2018) a mere six weeks after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer that had spread to his neck. He was 70 years old. Many of you may not know Stan’s name, but if you’re reading this blog Stan has undoubtedly touched your Fortran life. Stan joined Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC) in 1976, to work on the TOPS-10 (DECsystem-10) FORTRAN compiler. He had previously been a COBOL programmer for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. By the time I met Stan in 1979, he was leading the VAX APL project. Somewhere in the mid 1980s, he returned to Fortran, joining the DEC Fortran 90 project, and eventually he ended up being the project lead. In the Intel years he gained the title “Fortran Architect”, which meant that he helped explain Fortran to other teams at Intel what Fortran required and (re)designed directive syntax so that Fortran could use it.

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Doctor Fortran in “The End is Nigh”

At the June 2018 meeting of the International Fortran Standards Committee (WG5) in Berkeley, California, we processed 84 comments received during the ISO ballot of the Draft International Standard (DIS). Many of these comments were editorial in nature, some asked for clarification of technical issues and a couple involved small technical changes. There were enough edits, though, to require creation of a new document referred to as an FDIS (Final Draft International Standard). This will go out for a short ballot, and if all goes well the Fortran 2018 standard should be published by the end of the year. Fingers crossed!

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Doctor Fortran in “And They’re Off!”

Two significant events happened recently in the Fortran world. As I wrote in Doctor Fortran in “DIS, Dat and Doze”, the Draft International Standard for Fortran 2018 was submitted for country ballot back in January. There was an eight-week period for possible translations, though I don’t know that any occurred, and the ballot officially opened on March 9. Each ISO National Body (country standards committee) gets to vote and can Approve, Approve with Comments or Disapprove. The DIS is available for view at the new J3 web site, https://j3-fortran.org – go to Documents > By Year > 2018 > 18-007. 

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Doctor Fortran in “Eighteen is the New Fifteen”

When the international Fortran standards committee (WG5) met in 2012 to set a schedule for the next standard revision, the informal name of the standard was set to be “Fortran 2015”. The schedule changed over the subsequent years, but the name stayed the same. The current schedule has the standard being published in the second half of 2018, which caused a question to be asked: “Should we perhaps think of changing the year number to something more current?”

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Doctor Fortran in “Are We There Yet?”

The Fortran 2015 standard is almost here, for larger values of “almost”. The technical content is locked down and, at this point, only minor editorial changes are being allowed. A Committee Draft is currently out for ballot, with the results to be available in time for the next US committee (J3 or INCITS PL22.3) meeting in October 2017. International committee (WG5) members get to make comments and suggest editorial changes, but technical changes are not allowed.

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Doctor Fortran in “It Takes All KINDs”

So this is retirement? As I noted earlier, I may no longer be working for Intel, but I do intend to stay active in the Fortran and Intel development communities. While I am back in the forum answering questions, it is liberating knowing that I am not responsible for making sure every question (and bug report) gets answered. I recently learned a wonderfully appropriate Polish saying “Nie mój cyrk, nie moje małpy”, which translates literally to “Not my circus, not my monkey”, or more colloquially, “not my problem”. I plan to apply this a lot.

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