Why have FORTRAN 8x at all? 
Author Message
 Why have FORTRAN 8x at all?


other things (in the fortran group):

Quote:
> Here is the historical paradigm I am looking at:
> Algol-60 was a breakthough, excellent language; widely used as a publication
> language and used in Europe as a practical language.  So a committee decided
> to "improve" Algol-60 to Algol-68.  You may recall the result: Algol-68 was
> "improved" to the point of being unusable.  Very few implementations ever were
> finished: hardly anybody ever managed to get through the language spec.


Quote:
> By the way, here is some more discussion on how Algol-60 was "improved":
> Algol-60 was "improved" to Algol-68 by a committee and the result was an
> embarrassing debacle.
> Algol-60 was really improved by Niklaus Wirth:
> Algol-60 -> Algol-W -> Pascal -> Modula -> Modula 2 -> ... -> ???

> Note that real improvements in language design seem to come from individuals
> or small groups, not large committees!

        And so are myths perpetuated.  Let's see:

"A committee decided" -- well, not exactly.  A committee was *charged with*
        developing Algol 60, in the light of the deficiencies in that
        language which had become apparent with use.  Sound familiar?
        As is well-known, the sub-committee which eventually spawned '68
        did not do so without causing a certain amount of controversy.
        Sound familiar?

"A68 was unusable" -- well, not exactly.  It was for some years the preferred
        language at a number of institutions, including this one.  From 1972
        to 1978, virtually all my own programs were written in A68, ranging
        from toys up to major projects of many thousand lines.  Only yesterday
        I heard of a new major program for the semantic analysis of programs
        written in Pascal, Ada, Fortran, etc., consisting of some 70000 lines
        of A68.  I *personally* taught over 1000 students in this Department
        Algol 68 as their first programming language;  my *personal* opinion
        (which you may take with as many grains of salt as you like) is that
        A68 is easier to teach, *and* to learn, *and* to use, than A60
        (which we used before 1972), and than Pascal (which we eventually
        were forced to switch to).  Purely incidentally, in all the tests
        known to me, A68 programs benchmarked faster than their Fortran
        equivalents;  advances in compiler technology may have changed that
        picture in the '80s.  A68 is *still* in wide use in many places.

"Very few implementations finished" -- well, not exactly.  The current (and
        last [:-(]) Algol Bulletin lists 7 *current* implementations "which
        you can actually obtain and use", running on at least 20 different
        machine architectures, including all the popular ones, under at least
        20 different operating systems, ditto;  except indeed that the 68S
        which runs on "my" current system (PDP 11/44, Unix V7) doesn't get
        a mention.  I guess those figures will be beaten by a few of the most
        popular languages, but not by many.

"[unreadable] language spec" -- well, not exactly.  The Revised Report was,
        for a while, routinely taught to our CS specialists, and they seemed
        to do OK in the consequent exams.  *I* learned A68 from the Reports;
        they certainly weren't light bed-time reading;  but no harder than
        the average graduate text.  For the non-specialists, the difficulty
        of the Report is irrelevant;  they learn from the more elementary
        texts.  Just as every serious user of C "has" to read K&R, while
        ordinary users learn C from easier books.

"embarrassing debacle" -- well, not exactly.  Some of the opponents of A68,
        including some of the proponents of Pascal and other rivals, would
        have you think so.  Do you, does anyone, have any *evidence*?
        How would you rate the relative importance and influence of A68
        compared with, say, Simula, APL, Forth, Snobol, to pick a few
        perfectly respectable languages at random?  Why should you (or
        anyone) think of A68, but not zillions of other languages, as an ED?

"A60 really improved by NW" -- well, perhaps.  It's debatable, but *I* would
        agree that Pascal, Modula2, etc are more useful languages than A60;
        but the implication is that they are better, too, than A68.  They
        just aren't.  They *really*, *really* aren't.  Better PR job, yes.

        The point of relevance to Fortran 88 is that you certainly shouldn't
think that design by individual is good, and by a committee is bad.  Either
can be good or bad.  But standardisation *certainly* is a committee job, as
C, Pascal and Fortran, to name but three, have found recently;  no one
person, no matter how talented, has the necessary width of expertise.

        [I've added "comp.lang.misc" to the groups for the A68 relevance;
         please consider carefully where you direct any follow-ups. -- ANW]

--
Andy Walker, Maths Dept., Nott'm Univ., UK.



Mon, 19 Apr 1993 20:01:00 GMT  
 Why have FORTRAN 8x at all?

Quote:
>"Very few implementations finished" -- well, not exactly.  The current (and
>    last [:-(]) Algol Bulletin lists 7 *current* implementations "which
>    you can actually obtain and use", running on at least 20 different

Would there be one for Suns (especially Sun-386i)?  I used to use Algol 68
on a DEC-10, and would dearly love to be able to use a nice clean language
again.


Mon, 19 Apr 1993 08:13:00 GMT  
 Why have FORTRAN 8x at all?

Quote:


> other things (in the Fortran group):

> > [ I presented the argument that good languages come from individuals, ]
> > [ and bad designs come from committees: I quoted Algol-68 as one of ]
> > [ several examples ]

> [ Andy Walker rebutted that his institution, Nottingham U, UK, used ]
> [ Algol68 A WHOLE LOT, and they liked it A WHOLE LOT ]

 Andy, I now know of 2 (two) institutions that ever tried to use Algol-68 at
all seriously, yours, and Math. Centrum in Amsterdam.
 If that is not an embarrassing debacle for a language design, what, pray tell,
is?  Ten million computer owners elected not to use Algol-68, and (order of
magnitude) 2 institutions chose to use it.
 I realize that scientific truths are not decided democratically, by majority
vote, otherwise one could say "{*filter*} is good, because millions of people use
it frequently", but, my good man, give us a break.
 I submit that the reason an utterly negligible fraction of the computer
owners in the world use Algol-68 is that the language design was inherently
flawed, and it is my interpretation that these flaws stemmed from the
committee-design process (primarily).
 The primary "benefit" that I see in your institutions' choice of Algol-68 is
that you write programs that nobody else can use, and that your students have
to do extra work learning mainstream languages after they graduate.
 That sounds like a bad decision on the part of Nottingham U.
--
Bill Hutchison, DP Consultant   rutgers!liberty!burdvax!ubbpc!wgh
Unisys UNIX Portation Center    "What one fool can do, another can!"
P.O. Box 500, M.S. B121         Ancient Simian Proverb, quoted by
Blue Bell, PA 19424             Sylvanus P. Thompson, in _Calculus Made Easy_


Mon, 19 Apr 1993 13:50:00 GMT  
 Why have FORTRAN 8x at all?


 > > [ Andy Walker rebutted that his institution, Nottingham U, UK, used ]
 > > [ Algol68 A WHOLE LOT, and they liked it A WHOLE LOT ]
 >
 >  Andy, I now know of 2 (two) institutions that ever tried to use Algol-68 at
 > all seriously, yours, and Math. Centrum in Amsterdam.
 >  If that is not an embarrassing debacle for a language design, what, pray tell,
 > is?  Ten million computer owners elected not to use Algol-68, and (order of
 > magnitude) 2 institutions chose to use it.
Strange that a (semi-commercial) corporation like NAG has produced a complete
numerical library for Algol-68 if only 2 institutes used it!  (And that
library had not very much followers here.)

To be true, there is one country where Algol-68 has been used a lot: the UK.
Of course the availability of compilers made a big difference (Algol-68C
from Cambridge etc.).
--
dik t. winter, cwi, amsterdam, nederland




Mon, 19 Apr 1993 20:17:00 GMT  
 Why have FORTRAN 8x at all?

Quote:
> Andy, I now know of 2 (two) institutions that ever tried to use Algol-68 at
>all seriously, yours, and Math. Centrum in Amsterdam.
> If that is not an embarrassing debacle for a language design, what, pray tell,
>is?  Ten million computer owners elected not to use Algol-68, and (order of
>magnitude) 2 institutions chose to use it.

Please add the following institutions, all of which either used or taught
Algol-68:

        University of Oxford
        University of Cambridge
        University of London
        Royal Signals and Radar Establishment
        Royal Military College of Science

However, a better test of the language as a piece of design is the number
of key concepts it introduced.  This includes

        formal definition of static semantics using a van-Wyngaarden grammar
        fully orthogonal type system with code objects as first-class objects
        user-defined operators and operator overloading
        a clear and correct definition of coercion
        the "heap"
        array slicing in a more powerful and more well-founded manner

well, I won't run on too long, but Algol-68 has an honourable place even
in a history written by the "winners".



Mon, 19 Apr 1993 21:08:00 GMT  
 Why have FORTRAN 8x at all?

Quote:
>> [ Andy Walker rebutted that his institution, Nottingham U, UK, used ]
>> [ Algol68 A WHOLE LOT, and they liked it A WHOLE LOT ]

> Andy, I now know of 2 (two) institutions that ever tried to use Algol-68 at
>all seriously, yours, and Math. Centrum in Amsterdam.

Add at least two more to your limited knowledge: the Royal Radar Establishment
and Cambridge University, UK.

RRE produced a compiler for the ICL 1900 machines; their system is described
in "ALGOL68-R Users Guide", by PM Woodward and SG Bond, HMSO 1974, ISBN
0-11-771600-6.  A version of this was also ported to the later 2900 range.

At Cambridge University, we had a compiler for Algol68C (Algol68 with some
extensions) which was heavily used.  Most (all?) of the operating system for
the CAP machine was written in Algol68C.  This project is described in the
book "The Cambridge CAP Computer and its Operating System", by MV Wilkes and
RM Needham, North-Holland 1979, ISBN 0-444-00357-6.  I quote from the preface:
"The choice of a programming language for an operating system is a crucial one.
... As a system programming language Algol68C has proved a distinct success."
The book gives several example modules from the CAP OS.

The Algol68C compiler was also sent to several other Universities.

Quote:
> I submit that the reason an utterly negligible fraction of the computer
>owners in the world use Algol-68 is that the language design was inherently
>flawed, and it is my interpretation that these flaws stemmed from the
>committee-design process (primarily).

Algol68 is one of the very few languages whose design is inherently sound.
It has one of the most regular and predictable syntaxes of any of todays
languages.  The lack of more widespread use is probably due more to possible
difficulties of complete implementation, and because it was never adopted
by some commercial hardware/software vendor.

Quote:
> The primary "benefit" that I see in your institutions' choice of Algol-68 is
>that you write programs that nobody else can use, and that your students have
>to do extra work learning mainstream languages after they graduate.
> That sounds like a bad decision on the part of Nottingham U.
>--
>Bill Hutchison, DP Consultant       rutgers!liberty!burdvax!ubbpc!wgh
>Unisys UNIX Portation Center        "What one fool can do, another can!"
>P.O. Box 500, M.S. B121             Ancient Simian Proverb, quoted by
>Blue Bell, PA 19424         Sylvanus P. Thompson, in _Calculus Made Easy_

This is rubbish.  Programs written is Algol68 can be extremely readable -
MUCH more so than C.  Learning Algol68 would give students a clearer idea
of data structures than many other languages, I believe.  And how many serious
programmers know only one language?  A knowledge of several languages helps
students understand the principles behind them more easily; Algol68 should
be included in this set as it makes many of those principles very clear.

Furthermore, in these days when software reliability is so important, I
would maintain that few languages have the potential for reliability that
Algol68 has.

--

<<< standard disclaimers >>>
Nick Crossley, CCI, 9801 Muirlands, Irvine, CA 92718-2521, USA
Tel. (714) 458-7282,  uucp: ...!uunet!ccicpg!nick



Mon, 19 Apr 1993 01:10:00 GMT  
 Why have FORTRAN 8x at all?

Quote:


>> other things (in the Fortran group):
>> > [ I presented the argument that good languages come from individuals, ]
>> > [ and bad designs come from committees: I quoted Algol-68 as one of ]
>> > [ several examples ]
>  Andy, I now know of 2 (two) institutions that ever tried to use Algol-68 at
> all seriously, yours, and Math. Centrum in Amsterdam.

Actually, Algol-68 was used by many European universities. It never
caught on here in the States, but that's mainly because the foremost
languages here in the States Cobol and Fortran (no joke!), except in
the high-end CS programs, which used Lisp or, if they used an
Algol-like language, PL/1.

Saying, then, that Algol-68 was an "embarassing debacle" is assuming
an attitude of American ethnocentricism which is, in itself,
embarrasing.

Quote:
>  I submit that the reason an utterly negligible fraction of the computer
> owners in the world use Algol-68 is that the language design was inherently
> flawed, and it is my interpretation that these flaws stemmed from the
> committee-design process (primarily).

From what I've seen of Algol-68 (admittedly not much), the language
design's flaws are related more to the implementability of certain
language features, and the "trickiness" of using the language to its
full extent... as far as language size and definition goes, I see
little difference between the language defintion of Algol-68 and, say,
Modula-][.

Quote:
> Bill Hutchison, DP Consultant      rutgers!liberty!burdvax!ubbpc!wgh
> Unisys UNIX Portation Center       "What one fool can do, another can!"

Somehow, when I read the words "Unix Portation Center", I can't get
the image of a pontoon bridge out of my mind ;-). (sorry, you have to
be raised on old WW][ films to know what I'm talking about).

--
Eric Lee Green    ..!{ames,decwrl,mit-eddie,osu-cis}!killer!elg
          Snail Mail P.O. Box 92191 Lafayette, LA 70509              



Mon, 19 Apr 1993 05:23:00 GMT  
 Why have FORTRAN 8x at all?

Quote:
> Andy, I now know of 2 (two) institutions that ever tried to use Algol-68 at
>all seriously, yours, and Math. Centrum in Amsterdam.

How about Cambridge, where the Algol-68C compiler came from (the one I
used to use)?  How about RRE?  How about the use of Algol 68 on one of
the CMU parallel machines?

What, exactly, were the flaws in the language _design_?  (I will agree
that formats were rather too complicated -- having had Algol 60
slammed for not having I/O built in the '68 team tried to out-Fortran
Fortran.  And today C is popular, oh the shame of it.)  I contend that

        Algol 68 was a simple language with a complicated _description_
        which frightened a lot of people.

        Pascal was a hideously complex language (special cases and
        special caveats all over the place, UGH) with a deceptively
        simple _description_ which suckered a lot of people.

Whenever I got the Algol 68C compiler to accept a program, it did
exactly what I thought it would (modulo my mistakes).  But not only
was it harder to express even the simplest thing in Pascal (matrix
multiplication, for example), for many years every Pascal compiler
located a different _large_ area of uncertainty about what Pascal was
supposed to mean.  First it got to the point where I stopped using FOR
statements, because I couldn't find two Pascal compilers that did the
same thing with them, and then I gave up trying to port Pascal programs
entirely and rewrote them in C.

--
Subjects considered Mexico to be more similar to the United States
than the United States is to Mexico  -- George Lakoff.



Mon, 19 Apr 1993 05:41:00 GMT  
 Why have FORTRAN 8x at all?


Quote:
> [ Andy Walker rebutted that his institution, Nottingham U, UK, used ]
> [ Algol68 A WHOLE LOT, and they liked it A WHOLE LOT ]
> Andy, I now know of 2 (two) institutions that ever tried to use Algol-68 at
> all seriously, yours, and Math. Centrum in Amsterdam...
> I submit that the reason an utterly negligible fraction of the computer
> owners in the world use Algol-68 is that the language design was inherently
> flawed...

ICL used S3, a dialect of Algol 68, to write their VME operating system, a
HUGE program.  On their machine architecture (not unlike the Burroughs stack
machines) it runs phenomenally fast.

Mor importantly, Algol 68 continues to inspire clean language designs - its
concern for orthogonality is reflected in ML, most lazy functional languages,
Smalltalk, PS-algol, FAD,... and what did Pascal and C lead to?  Ada and C++,
both messed up with piles of ad hoc restrictions that are absolutely
unintelligible without knowing how the compiler and run-time systems work.
This is how to design a high-level language?
--


Mail: Jack Campin, Computing Science Dept., Glasgow Univ., 17 Lilybank Gardens,
      Glasgow G12 8QQ, SCOTLAND     work 041 339 8855 x 6045; home 041 556 1878



Mon, 19 Apr 1993 09:45:00 GMT  
 Why have FORTRAN 8x at all?
Praxis still uses Algol 68, for real product development.  We compile
through the SD-SCICON Algol 68 compiler for VAX systems, and through our own
compiler to C for Suns and other UNIX systems.

ICL supply Algol 68 as a standard product to run on VME.  We can
supply for Honeywell Multics, if anyone is still running it!

The Royal Signals and Radar Establishment have a compiler for FLEX (their
capability machine), and for Ten15 (their abstract machine).  

A new implementation for any reasonable architecture should cost less than
#500,000 (UK pounds), starting from the RS front-end.  We are happy to bid
for such implementation contracts!

Martyn Thomas, Praxis plc, 20 Manvers Street, Bath BA1 1PX UK.
Tel:    +44-225-444700.   Email:   ...!uunet!mcvax!ukc!praxis!mct



Mon, 19 Apr 1993 10:41:00 GMT  
 Why have FORTRAN 8x at all?

Quote:
> The primary "benefit" that I see in your institutions' choice of Algol-68 is
>that you write programs that nobody else can use, and that your students have
>to do extra work learning mainstream languages after they graduate.
> That sounds like a bad decision on the part of Nottingham U.

Teaching Algol-68 allows many institutions to expose their students to
interesting concepts in the design of computer languages.  Evidently you
prefer that they expose students only to BOTH concepts present in PASCAL
(straight jackets and {*filter*} walls), so they can turn out the future
COBOL-drudges.

"Thunk" is not the sound of a PC hitting a desk.
--
John Woods, Charles River Data Systems, Framingham MA, (617) 626-1101

Science does not remove the TERROR of the Gods!



Mon, 19 Apr 1993 14:02:00 GMT  
 Why have FORTRAN 8x at all?
I envy all you across the Atlantic. On this side of the big shining water we're
debating whether C or Fortran is better.
--
                                                   -- s m ryan
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
As loners, Ramdoves are ineffective in making intelligent decisions, but in
groups or wings or squadrons or whatever term is used, they respond with an
esprit de corps, precision, and, above all, a ruthlessness...not hatefulness,
that implies a wide ranging emotional pattern, just a blind, unemotional
devotion to doing the job.....


Mon, 19 Apr 1993 00:50:00 GMT  
 
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