Re: R-alpha: Fortran (linpack and eispack are dead!)
Wed, 10 Jul 1996 17:11:04 -0500 (CDT)

Date: Wed, 10 Jul 1996 17:11:04 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Re: R-alpha: Fortran (linpack and eispack are dead!)

Just to shed a tear in memoriam I never have understood why fortran was
considered a problem other than that it was growing old and dying out like the
Latin and Greek I took in high school. My programming goes back four decades.
There exist computer engineers of my era who still do their system programming
in fortran and use f2c for the benefit of coordinating with the younger members
of their departments. It has been at least 25 years since I encountered a bug
in a fortran library but I still run into 2 or 3 a year in my C libraries. My
engineering friends assert modern fortran compilers optimize to the upper 90's
in efficiency. In simulations where it matters and for heavy I/O my fortran
programs are more efficient than my C programs. It is true I am more familiar
with fortran as my "native" language. I do not have the same sense of knowing
just what object code other languages will generate nor can I read programs
readily in other languages either to use them or to modify them. I find block
datas easier to follow than includes. I still have the original fortran
graphics of S on my machine as well as the original omnitab. The algorithms
don't age like the languages. Goodbye to an era.

To acknowledge my membership among the Neanderthals, I was present when Watson
said: "With this the dedication of the fourth IBM701 computer we have installed
enough capacity to meet all the computing needs of the United States for the
next one hundred years." It took us 20 minutes to invert an 8x8 matrix on that

Enough of the past--it's exciting to see the future unfold in projects like R!



Gordon M. Harrington		Mail:	520 West 20th Street
Professor Emeritus			Cedar Falls, IA 50613-3927
University of Northern Iowa 	Phone:	319-266-8927
				Fax:	319-273-6188

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