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History | Significant
Language Features | Areas of Application | Sample Programs

Related Links | Printed
References | Acknowledgments

One of the oldest programming languages, the FORTRAN was developed by a team of programmers at IBM led by John Backus, and was first published in 1957. The name FORTRAN is an acronym for FORmula TRANslation, because it was designed to allow easy translation of math formulas into code.

Often referred to as a *scientific language*, FORTRAN was the first *high-level*
language, using the first compiler ever developed. Prior to the development of FORTRAN
computer programmers were required to program in machine/assembly code, which was an
extremely difficult and time consuming task, not to mention the dreadful chore of
debugging the code. The objective during it's design was to create a programming language
that would be: simple to learn, suitable for a wide variety of applications, *machine
independent*, and would allow complex mathematical expressions to be stated similarly
to regular algebraic notation. While still being almost as efficient in execution as
assembly language. Since FORTRAN was so much easier to code, programmers were able to
write programs 500% faster than before, while execution efficiency was only reduced by
20%, this allowed them to focus more on the problem solving aspects of a problem, and less
on coding.

FORTRAN was so innovative not only because it was the first high-level language, but
also because of it's compiler, which is credited as giving rise to the branch of computer
science now known as *compiler theory*. Several years after it's release FORTRAN had
developed many different *dialects*, (due to special *tweaking* by programmers
trying to make it better suit their personal needs) making it very difficult to transfer
programs from one machine to another.

These problems lead the *American Standards Association* (now known as the *American
National Standards Association*) to release it's first *Standard for a Programming
Language*in 1966. This first standardized version has come to be known as FORTRAN '66
(aka.. FORTRAN IV).

Despite this standardization, a few years later, various new *dialects* began to
surface again, requiring the *Standards Association* review the language again. This
version is known as FORTRAN '77. This version was released in 1978 (it was called '77
because the Association began it's review in 1977), with several new features. Some of the
more notable properties were; new error handling methods, and mechanisms for managing
large-scale programs. The latest version; Fortran '90 (released in 1990, using the new
capitalization scheme) added even more new features, such as support for: recursion,
pointers, and for programmer-defined data types. {**Fortran 90's future** -
Current research in complier theory involves equipping compilers to generate object code,
that is able to exploit the capabilities of massively parallel computers. Thr Fortran 90
compilers are key targets of such research}

Some of the more significant features of the language are as listed below:

**Simple to learn**- when FORTRAN was design one of the objectives was to write a language that was easy to learn and understand.**Machine Independent**- allows for easy transportation of a program from one machine to another.**More natural ways to express mathematical functions**- FORTRAN permits even severely complex mathematical functions to be expressed similarly to regular algebraic notation.**Problem orientated language****Remains close to and exploits the available hardware****Efficient execution**- there is only an approximate 20% decrease in efficiency as compared to assembly/machine code.**Ability to control storage allocation**-programmers were able to easily control the allocation of storage (although this is considered to be a dangerous practice today, it was quite important some time ago due to limited memory.**More freedom in code layout**- unlike assembly/machine language, code does not need to be laid out in rigidly defined columns, (though it still must remain within the parameters of the FORTRAN source code form).

FORTRAN is useful for a wide variety of applications, some of the more outstanding ones are as follows:

**Number crunching**- due to the more natural (like it's true algebraic form) way of expressing complex mathematical functions and it's quick execution time, FORTRAN is easy and efficient at processing mathematical equations.**Scientific, mathematical, statistical, and engineering type procedures**-due to it's rapid number-crunching ability FORTRAN is a good choice for these type of applications.

Basically FORTRAN is most useful for applications that are *"computational-bound"*
rather than *"I/O bound"*.

**International Mathematical and Statistical Library**- This site contains a large library of statistical and mathematical subroutines, which are often necessary for program ing computation intensive tasks.**Free FORTRAN software****A Special Interest Group (SIG) of the Association for Computing Machinery**- Publishes a newsletter*"Fortran Forum"*, which focuses on FORTRANs capabilities and suitable app lications.**Fortran Publikationen Meine (gedruckten) Fortran-Publikationen, etc. (My (printed) publications on Fortran)Fortran**-Sprachen FORTRAN 77 Fortran 90 HPF (High Performance Fortran) Die Programmiersprache F Fortran 95 Fortran 2000 Fortran-Software.**Fortran Related Links**- Fortran Related Links The Fortran Market Fortran Library F90 FAN's: Fortran 90 Frequently Asked about News Mailbase comp-fortran -90 comp.lang.fortran newsgroup Numerical Recipes in Fortran 90 (see also Why not use Numerical Recipes? and….**Fortran Library**- Revised 8 September 99 - What's New PRODUCT UPDATE ANNOUNCEMENT! GINOMENU 4.0/Studio 1.0/GINO-F 4.3 SUPPORT G77! All About G77 and How to Support Development Articles/Books on the Net FAQs & Other Compiled Sources Benchmarks/Performance Testing.**Fortran Tutorial**- Fortran Tutorial This page has been accessed times, since 20.01.1997. Fortran 77 Preface What is Fortran? Fortran basics How to use Fortran on the Unix computers at Stanford Variables, declarations, and types Expressions and assignment Logical.**Genetic Algorithm: Fortran**- Download a free genetic algorithm program coded in**Fortran**.

- Ford, Donald H. and Joseph Rue (1982).
*Standard FORTRAN Programming*, 4th edition. Homewood, IL: Richard D Irwin Incorporated. - Griffiths, D. V. and I. M. Smith (1991).
*Numerical Methods for Engineers*. Oxford, England, UK: Blackwell Scientific Publications.

(This book contains many FORTRAN examples.) - Metcalf, Michael (1985).
*Effective FORTRAN 77*. Oxford, England, UK: Oxford University Press. - Nyhoff, Larry R., and Sanford C. Leestma (1997).
*Fortran 90 for Engineers*. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall Inc.

*Last modified: 2:00 AM on 11/14/99*

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