Doctor Fortran in “It’s a Modern Fortran World”

I recently received a copy of “Numerical Computing with Modern Fortran”, by Richard Hanson and Tim Hopkins, and noted how many books on Fortran are being published recently with “Modern Fortran” in the titles. It turns out this is not a new phenomenon – a search on Amazon.com shows that this phrase has been used for books on Fortran 90 and even Fortran 77! I chatted about this with two of the newer books’ authors, asking why they felt it necessary to qualify Fortran that way. The answer was generally that many programmers’ view of Fortran is stuck in the F77 or even F66 days and that it was helpful to prod them into thinking of Fortran as modern, which of course it is. A side benefit, I guess, is that they can reuse the title when the standard changes!

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Has it really been 35 years?

I knew this date was coming up, but I had forgotten about it for a while until my manager reminded me – October 2, 2013 marks my 35th anniversary “at Intel”. I put that in quotes because Intel “grandfathered” my time at DEC and Compaq. It was October 2, 1978, when I walked into DEC’s facility in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, as a new employee. The site, like many of DEC’s in that day, was a converted shopping center – the main entry was where a Caldor department store had been, and a smaller building across the parking lot had been an A&P supermarket. Nowadays it’s an office park owned by an insurance company.

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Doctor Fortran Goes Dutch: Fortran 2015

The ISO Fortran Standards Committee held its annual meeting in Delft, The Netherlands, in late June. I represented Intel at this meeting where the focus was on completing the set of requirements for the next revision of the Fortran standard, to be called Fortran 2015. You can read my earlier post on the standards process at The Real Doctors of Fortran, but I’ll recap a summary here.

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Doctor Fortran in “Source Form Just Wants to be Free”

In the beginning, there was only one source form for FORTRAN (as it was then known) programs. Each statement was exactly 72 characters long – no more, no less. (See note below.) Columns 1-5 were for statement labels, whole line comments were indicated with a C in column 1, and column 6 was reserved for a continuation indicator. Blanks in the statement field, outside of quoted literals, were ignored. The standard didn’t (and still doesn’t) talk about how source programs are fed into a compiler, but on systems where there were “file types”, the types .for, .f and .ftn were usually recognized as being Fortran.

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Doctor Fortran in “I Can C Clearly Now, Part I”

Spend any time in the comp.lang.fortran newsgroup, or other places where programming languages are discussed, and you’ll soon see a new “Which is better, Fortran or C?” thread show up. These never fail to produce heated comments from people who should know better. My answer is that neither is “better” – each has its strengths and weaknesses.

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Doctor Fortran Gets Explicit – Again!

Nearly 11 years ago (!) I wrote an item for the Visual Fortran Newsletter on explicit interfaces in Fortran. In recent weeks, I have had to refer quite a few customers to this article, suggesting that many Fortran programmers don’t understand the role and rules of explicit interfaces. However, when I reread the item, I realized that things had changed a bit since Fortran 95, so I figured it was time to revisit the issue.

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Doctor Fortran in “Lest Old Acquaintance Be Forgot”

In some of my earlier posts I’ve discussed new features in the Fortran language that might be unfamiliar to some.  But this time I’m going to go the other way and describe some really old language features – so old that many newer Fortran programmers are mystified when they see them – but these features are still supported by many current compilers, including Intel Fortran.  So let’s set the Wayback Machine to the 1960s and have a look around.

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The Real Doctors of Fortran

In this blog, I refer to myself as “Doctor Fortran”.  It’s a joke that started more than ten years ago when I decided to write an “advice column” for what was then the Digital Visual Fortran Newsletter.  Everyone liked it so much I stuck with it, but I’ve always been aware of the people who deserve that title far more than I – the members of the Fortran standards committee.  As it happens, I am an “alternate” member of the committee representing Intel, but most of the time we are represented by Stan Whitlock.  Intel Fortran developer Lorri Menard is our other alternate member.  I’ve now attended three standards meetings and thought I’d write up my experience of the most recent and give readers a feel for how the Fortran language’s evolution is guided and its cohesiveness maintained.

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