[Beowulf] Scientific computing’s future: Can any coding language top a 1950s behemoth ?

Daniel Pfenniger daniel.pfenniger at unige.ch
Tue May 13 12:00:28 PDT 2014

Douglas Eadline wrote:
>> Young pretenders to FORTRAN's throne.
>> http://arstechnica.com/science/2014/05/scientific-computings-future-can-any-coding-language-top-a-1950s-behemoth/?kw=100k_pvs&search=100k_pvs
> Somewhat myopic view of the "possibilities." A pretty good
> description of the languages it covers (Fortran, Haskell,
> Clojure, and Julia) Really misses on C/C++ and some other
> things like OpenMP, MPI to name a few. I like Julia BTW,
> seems to be the right mix or pragmatism and performance.
> I also find this reoccurring notion that HPC needs to run out
> and replace Fortran with something else kind of silly.
> Fortran is doing just fine, thank you. And if you
> can make a case or have a requirement for some other
> language, then use what works for your requirements.

What has happened is that Fortran has evolved at the slow
speed required to keep legacy code running while
including conservatively the useful features of newer
languages without compromising speed too much.
These right compromises have given Fortran the advantage
for a better survival than richer but finally too short
lived languages. With a slow evolution legacy and well
tested code can be adapted, so survives.

It is funny that the ArsTechnica article illustrates
newer languages (Haskell, Clojure, Julia) with the
stupid but elegant recursive Fibonacci code which would look
as well stupidly elegant and short in contemporary Fortran
but that is not shown.  Yet Fortran understands recursive functions
since long, at least Sun Fortran 20 years ago as I recall.


> When young programmers make snide remarks about
> Fortran and rewriting codes in modern languages,
> I ask them if they also considered replacing
> the old copper plumbing in their house (or parents house)
> because there are modern products like Pex. I don't
> even wait for an answer. I just tell them to get off
> my lawn.
> --
> Doug
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> Doug

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