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

Joe Landman landman at scalableinformatics.com
Wed Nov 21 07:58:13 PST 2007

Robert G. Brown wrote:

[ language war elided ]

> Fortran's I/O commands are terrible.  Fortran is miserable if you have

Well, yes ...

> to manipulate text.  Fortran isn't the easiest thing (consequently) to

Just remember, all text is an array ....  I wrote a rough equivalent of 
strtok in fortran something like 18 years ago.  Needed it to parse 
command line arguments.  Wasn't terrible, but wasn't super simple.

> interface with any sort of GUI or human/interactive code.  Here C has a
> really significant advantage, although C is still far short of the ease
> of managing strings and the like in e.g. perl.  A second way I'd LOVE to
> change C is to fully integrate regular expressions into the language for
> string manipulation so that perl-like constructs such as if(a =~ /^Start/){
>   do something
> }

So you do know about PCRE ... right? http://www.pcre.org/

> worked.  Yes, you can do it with strcmp or a regexp library and some
> effort, but the programming time in perl is vastly lower and the code is
> much more readable.  C's "parsing" is simply not what it could be,

Yes.  Basically what I have been doing for a while, is using Perl as a 
front end to parse args, set up environment, and then emit whatever 
stuff the computational code needs on the back end to run correctly.  It 
is a great deal easier to debug than trying to put lipstick on a pig ... 
er ... graft reasonable UI stuff onto crusty-old-code.

> although it is entirely understandable and one can easily manipulate
> data at the byte by byte level to do whatever you like.

This is where IMO Perl (and to a degree Python, though I still have 
trouble with the indentation bit ... its so f77) really shine as 
front-ends to computational codes.

>    rgb
>> Don Shillady
>> Emeritus Professor of Chemistry, VCU
>> Ashland VA (working at home)> Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2007 13:26:08 -0800> 
>> From: lindahl at pbm.com> To: diep at xs4all.nl> Subject: Re: [Beowulf] 
>> Teaching Scientific Computation (looking for the perfect text)> CC: 
>> Beowulf at beowulf.org> > X-Frumious: Bandersnatch> > On Tue, Nov 20, 
>> 2007 at 09:46:41PM +0100, Vincent Diepeveen wrote:> > There is several 
>> ways to look at this issue.> > Suppose your students totally fail as 
>> physics student and even more > > as future manager/teamleader and 
>> continue as computer science students.> > > > Then what language can 
>> they use best?> > ... then they'll be studying many languages, and it 
>> won't be any big> deal that they studied Fortran, Python, and 
>> Mathematica in their first> course.> > It's dumb to act as if these 
>> students are never learning another> language.> > -- greg> > 
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Joseph Landman, Ph.D
Founder and CEO
Scalable Informatics LLC,
email: landman at scalableinformatics.com
web  : http://www.scalableinformatics.com
phone: +1 734 786 8423
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