[jacbre@internet.gr: languages comparison]

Francois-Rene Rideau Francois-Rene Rideau <fare@tunes.org>
Thu, 31 May 2001 15:38:13 +0200

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Dear Reviewers,

is there a volonteer to maintain the Languages review page?
I just received this comment on FORTRAN. I have one on agora, too.
I also am contacted by someone trying to soup up the position of Delphi
in the page (are we to judge languages for their economico-political as
well as technical aspects? do we accept to talk about languages that
only have proprietary implementations ?)
And of course, I have a LONG list of pointers to integrate in the page,
not to talk about the long enough TODO list in the end of it...

[ François-René ÐVB Rideau | Reflection&Cybernethics | http://fare.tunes.org ]
[  TUNES project for a Free Reflective Computing System  | http://tunes.org  ]
Science is like sex: sometimes something useful comes out,
but that is not the reason we are doing it
	-- Richard Feynman

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From: jacbre@internet.gr
Date: Thu, 31 May 2001 03:53:36 +0300
To: fare@tunes.org
Subject: languages comparison
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I have just finished reading your comments on all these programming languages
at the tunes.org site. Although I didn't understand everything, I found your
article _very_ interesting. However, I noticed that there were hardly any
comments on Fortran. I am not a computer scientist, but 
I have used this language for some years and I would like to add my 2 cents.

All the criticism that FORTRAN 77 received was justified; it was a very 
primitive language with stupid 6-letter variables, lack of dynamic allocation,
and dangerous constructs that led to bad programming practices. It is also
true that all this code that has been written in Fortran 77 is unreadable.

But all the things that older versions of Fortran have been criticised for, 
have been eliminated in the latest standard, Fortran 90/95. It has also added
some great features such as powerful array syntax (which comes _really_ handy
in scientific computations), generic functions, derived types, operator 
overloading, dynamic allocation of memory,
a module system and _limited_ object-oriented facilities. I think that most
people that consider Fortran passe are either unaware of f90 features or not 
doing any numerical computation at all.

Summing up:


	The older language still used today, popular in the engineering world.
	Fortran 90 represents a radical improvement compared with the 
	previous standard, FORTRAN 77. It is the most popular language for
	scientific and large engineering problems and dominant in the world
	of massive super computers.

	- It is _fast_. Earlier versions of fortran were considered to give
	5-10% faster execution than equivelant C codes. With the latest 
	standard, all compilers are heavily-optimized for whole array 
	operations. This can _greatly_ accelerate things further more 
	if you are working with large arrays.

	- There is a large body of software already written in this language.
	Practically, every mathematical problem has been solved and packed up
	in high quality, freely available fortran libraries.
	See netlib.org & gams.nist.gov for tons of software.

	- Every engineer and scientist knows this language.
	- Cures deficiencies of older versions. 

	- Fortran 90 appeared too late. As a result, many scientists switched 
	over to C and a lot of code that should be written in Fortran is 
	written in the wrong language.

	- The OO features are not quite there yet.

Please note that I am not a computer expert and that I do not want to start
a flame war or anything. I just took the time to comment on your page.