Author Topic: Is Fortran extinct?  (Read 1243 times)

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Offline Hawaii00000Topic starter

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Is Fortran extinct?
« on: January 08, 2013, 11:44:42 PM »
Today I was my first day of my "Programing Basics" course at the University of Hawaii. One of the languages the prof mention we'll be learning is Fortran which he says is commonly used in engineering.

I've heard Fortran is pretty ancient so I was wondering if it's still a standard in engineering or if my class is a bit outdated.

Anyone use Fortran on a daily basis?
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Offline newInRobotics

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Re: Is Fortran extinct?
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2013, 08:07:58 AM »
For microcontroller programming I use C and for Windows programming C#/C++. As far as I know, these are main languages going alongside Java.
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Offline Gertlex

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Re: Is Fortran extinct?
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2013, 09:28:17 AM »
It's still used in research, albeit I don't write completely new programs in it.  It continues to be updated, as well.  So no, not extinct.  Just different...
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Offline jwatte

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Re: Is Fortran extinct?
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2013, 10:42:38 AM »
For scientific computing, especially numerical analysis, there are still some very large packages and systems that use FORTRAN. These are the kinds of systems where you provide parameters in, the system crunches numbers (sometimes for a long time,) and then results in the form of other numbers come out. Batch computing, on server-type computers. Weather prediction, mechanical analysis, simulated nuclear bombs, that kind of thing.

I would be very surprised if any signficiant new development is done in FORTRAN these days. Also, FORTRAN sucks at string/text processing, or real-time processing, or interfacing to any kind of modern devices, so unless you're specifically into the scientific computing part, you should probably only do minimum effort to pass the exam on that particular language :-)

The sweet spot for embedded development (code that runs inside engines, motion control, etc) is C, with some amount of C++.
The sweet spot for applications that interface with users is somewhere between Java, C#, and Visual Basic, but C++ is also used.
The sweet spot for web pages is Javascript.
The sweet spot for servers that back web pages is somewhere in the Ruby, PHP, Python space, with an also-ran by Java and C#.
The sweet spot for complex systems with to-the-metal performance requirements is C++.
The sweet spot for complex, distributed systems is Erlang, with also-rans by Java and C++.

If you learn Java, C++ and Javascript (which is a very different language from Java) then you will be very well prepared for actual software engineering in the world. After that, the ability to pick up and use other languages quickly is actually more important than any particular language. And if you want the current nerd darling language that just might become the next big thing, try Haskell :-)

Offline Hawaii00000Topic starter

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Re: Is Fortran extinct?
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2013, 01:04:57 PM »
Good stuff! I find myself wanting to do a lot of micro controller programing so I think C++ is a good place to start.

The other language we cover is class is "Scilab" which seems to be another numerical computing type language. I think its more of an education tool than a real world language, but I could be totally off.
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Offline newInRobotics

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Re: Is Fortran extinct?
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2013, 08:02:11 AM »
SciLab and Octave are free open-source "equivalents" of Matlab, however, as far as I know, not as feature rich.
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Offline robotchanneler

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Re: Is Fortran extinct?
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2013, 12:57:04 AM »
For system and apps I use C/Python.

For UI I use VB.net/C#.

The most recent application that I did was RFID reader/processor written in Python with UI written in C#.

Offline Admin

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Re: Is Fortran extinct?
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2013, 10:39:42 AM »
For most purposes it's ancient and obsolete, and not worth learning beyond historically understanding how low-level languages worked. The C language was the next evolution.

That said, there are supposedly still functional legacy systems out there that run Fortran. Most of the original Fortran programmers are retired/dead, so I hear those that are still around get paid pretty well to maintain those systems. :P

This page has comments that sorta contradict what I said, and is worth reading:
http://stackoverflow.com/questions/2266643/for-what-are-fortran-cobol-and-co-used-today

Offline Billy

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Re: Is Fortran extinct?
« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2013, 08:45:03 PM »
Anyone use Fortran on a daily basis?

I haven't seen Fortran since I took the class in college...and that was a long time ago...seriously....before you were born if you're just starting school.
I have not once seen a job posting requesting Fortran nor met anyone that claims to use it in industry. Maybe in academia.

That said, it's not a total waste. The skills you learn in Fortran will benefit you regardless of what language you actually use in the real world. Mostly you're learning how to think logically. Fortran is as good as the next language for that. Too bad though the specific knowledge you learn will go in the trash can on your way out after the final exam.

 


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