Friday, 13 January 2012

Advantage Fortran!

Well - still struggling to get going on the project in 2012- too much happening on other projects - but was quite pleased to see that there was at least one other looking to do some Excel to Fortran conversion!

Matt Wenham of the Fortran Programmers Group on LinkedIn kicked off a discussion on this very subject - you have to be in it to see it - but there were a few interesting replies that have given me incentive to get stuck into this project. In particular, the discussions have highlighted some of the 'advantages' of moving models into Fortran, which is generally perceived as an old man's language - at least by my young advisors!

So here is a quick summary of these advantages!

Quote from Craig Dego;
I find the ease of use of Fortran to be its most important advantage. This ease of use means that Fortran has much higher human productivity that most of its competitors. 

One other major advantage of Fortran is that it is still defined by an active ISO/ANSI Fortran Standards Technical Committee. Thus, the ISO standard for Fortran is current with modern computing needs and practices and is still relevant for much of modern Fortran use. This contrasts sharply with popular alternatives such as Java, C#, and Visual Basic, all of which are defined by software firms. Therefore, the definitions of Java, C#, and VB are the property of those firms. Java is owned by Oracle, which bought out Sun Microsystems. C# and VB are both owned by Microsoft. "

Quote from Jack Riegel;
".... I have seen a number of attempts to develop replacements to some of the procedural codes (thats FORTRAN-like code) fail miserably. They either become too difficult to comprehend or the implementation of math operators fail to provide the necessary precision or, more likely, they become so inefficient with all of the layering, that the resulting code is a major step backwards...."

Quote from Matt;
"I have recently helped to develop a complete cost forecasting application based on Excel. While it works, it has serious limitations, one of which is speed. A back-of-the-envelope calculation tells me if we re-write the main forecasting loop into Fortran it should run in a matter of seconds as opposed to the several minutes in Excel."

I like all that - standards and all - eat your shorts Java et al !

Hopefully I will get to delve into the code this coming week!

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