SC17 Denver, CO

Fortran Is 60 Years Old - Has It Changed for the Better?

Authors: Mr. John Levesque (Cray Inc)

Abstract: Fortran is 60 years old and maligned by many in the HPC community for being non-productive. While its usage in HPC is not as dominant as it was prior to 2000, it is still the major language employed for high performance. The Fortran standards committee is changing Fortran to be a more productive language. Have these changes to Fortran benefitted the community? We will hear from ex-Fortran coders who have moved to other languages and from current Fortran coders who still believe it has advantages over the alternatives.

Short five minutes talks from 3-4 panelists will stimulate discussion.

Long Description: Fortran has come a long way since its inception in 1957. Fortran has always been the tiger level language of choice for attaining the most from the target hardware. In the first twenty years of Supercomputing, Fortran was the predominant language. C was used for less then 5% of the applications. Fifteen to twenty years ago application developers began to turn away from Fortran to embrace more productive languages such as C++. Recently, changes to the Fortran standard have been introduced to make Fortran more productive. Some believe that these changes are moving Fortran away from its original function - to enable the compiler to generate efficient code. It's a balancing act between making the language more productive and still keeping the traditional goals in mind. We will have four panelists, a Fortran standards member to discuss where Fortran is and future paths, a current die-hard Fortran user, an ex-Fortran user who now programs in C++ and a user who employs Python for the higher level language and Fortran where performance is required. The intent of the BoF is to stimulate discussion of how Fortran is being used today and what would benefit Fortran in the future. Each panelist will give a five minute talk and then the audience will be encouraged to express their views and experiences.

Conference Presentation: pdf

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