[Beowulf] Re: Teaching Scientific Computation (looking for the perfect text)

Matt Rosing rosing at peakfive.com
Tue Nov 20 14:10:59 PST 2007

>After reflection though, I've started to wonder about the wisdom of my
>choice.  Specifically (like RGB), I love the GSL library, and extending GSL
>to fortran in an intro class is non-trivial.  Additionally, most vendors
>supply "fast" hardware libraries in C (I may be ignorant, but if a student
>wants to call an AMD ACML fast-math function(
>http://developer.amd.com/acml.jsp), or write a linear algebra function to
>run on a graphics card(http://developer.nvidia.com/object/cuda.html), the
>vendors seem to assume that you'll write the code in C).

Maybe they just need to understand the calling conventions between C
and Fortran and how to use the compilers.

>Also, and more relevant, I assume that most employers word-associate
>"Fortran is to backwards as C is to competence".

My view (please don't flame):

Fortran 77 is backwards. 

C is backwards, when it comes to scientific codes. But it is simple
(for me anyway). 

Fortran90 is not. In many respects much more appropriate for
scientific codes than C.

C++ is powerful but so huge you'll never get to the physics.

I don't know about Fortran 200X. I suspect it'll be the way to go as
soon as there are good compilers. It has objects and all that good

End of my view.

>So, I'm thinking about reworking the class to favor C, and fearing 3 weeks
>of pointer and addressing hell.  For those of you who teach scientific
>computation (and also those of you who hire undergrads), I'd be grateful for
>your thoughts.  One specific question I have is what text covers scientific
>programming and touches on MPI using the C language.

Can't help with texts. I still use Luc Chamberland's Fortran 90
Reference Guide. An updated version might be good.


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