[Beowulf] A start in Parallel Programming?

Jim Lux James.P.Lux at jpl.nasa.gov
Tue Mar 13 11:58:51 PDT 2007

At 10:33 AM 3/13/2007, Peter St. John wrote:
>Brown Dai-Sensei-Sama,
>Regarding "...Nobody knows why CPS departments no longer teach 
>students to code in C (and instead teach a bizarre mix of C++, java, 
>lisp, and god-knows-what else first -- at one time they just LOVED 
>pascal and where is THAT now I aske you), ..."
>Pascal, C, C++, Java, and LISP are not 5 languages, really; let's 
>say, they are spanned by a lower dimensional basis set. They are 
>really two languages (C and LISP) with two (or more) conceptual 
>paradigms (Procedural vs Object Oriented, say). It would be 
>insulting to say that PASCAL is merely C with BEGIN, END instead of 
>{ and }, but...

Pascal (at least originally) didn't allow you to do "dangerous" 
things like casting or direct pointer manipulation. It was very 
popular in the mid 70s at UCSD where we had little PDP-11 
workstations that compiled into P-code and then ran on the P-code 

>So I think that CS departments just agree with me, that you 
>understand programming better if you learn two.
>Re: FORTRAN, for awhile there we didn't really compile it, but 
>translate it to C and then invoke the C compiler. That gets you the 
>beauty of the IMSL libraries and the efficiency of very sharply 
>maintained C compilers, at the same time. Is there a good extant 
>FORTRAN compiler? I wonder why, fortran is easy to express in C 
>(unlike conceptually variant languages, like APL or LISP).

Except that all the highly optimized libraries for crunching vectors 
and matrices are tuned for FORTRAN, which is easier to use for such 
things than C, which insists on thinking of matrices as vectors of 
pointers, or forces you to explicitly be aware of how the indexing works.

Having done matrix math (with complex numbers) in both, I'd much 
prefer FORTRAN over C.

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