FORTRAN as First Language for CS Majors? 
Author Message
 FORTRAN as First Language for CS Majors?

     Why would anyone want to use fortran to teach people how to program
computers?  At some schools, the only place that I have seen *ANY* FORTRAN is
in a third year numerical methods course, where FORTRAN is particularly well
suited.  Otherwise, I wouldn't teach it at all.  On the other hand, having a
huge multitude of languages sitting around isn't too brilliant a thing,
either.  It is too bad that many of the languages learned early on are taught
for the sake of teaching, then promptly dropped, as no place in the real world
uses them.
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|  Arnold Gill                        |                                     |
|  Queen's University at Kingston     |     If I hadn't wanted it heard,    |



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Wed, 07 Oct 1992 13:08:07 GMT  
 FORTRAN as First Language for CS Majors?
An ongoing survey in the comp.edu newsgroup has
uncovered about ten different languages used
in the first course for Computer Science majors.

Not one of the few dozen respondents has listed

         FORTRAN

as the first language.

If you know of exceptions, where FORTRAN IS actually
used in the first course for CS majors, would
you please send me an e-mail note?

Thank you,

Dick



Tue, 06 Oct 1992 20:20:00 GMT  
 FORTRAN as First Language for CS Majors?

Quote:

>     Why would anyone want to use FORTRAN to teach people how to program
>computers?  At some schools, the only place that I have seen *ANY* FORTRAN is
>in a third year numerical methods course, where FORTRAN is particularly well
>suited.  Otherwise, I wouldn't teach it at all.  On the other hand, having a
>huge multitude of languages sitting around isn't too brilliant a thing,
>either.  It is too bad that many of the languages learned early on are taught
>for the sake of teaching, then promptly dropped, as no place in the real world
>uses them.

Only a few schools have reported that FORTRAN is used for the first
course required for Computer Science majors, whereas over 50% of the
schools of Engineering require the language in the Beginning Course
for Engineers ("Computer Education for Engineers, Part III",
Engineering Education, December, 1989).

Don't overlook the fact that Fortran '90 (new informal name, since
Fortran 8X didn't make it through standards activity in time) has
a lot of interesting features including:  structures, pointers,
functions returning arrays, array operators, etc.  Compilers for this
version are rare, but exist.

Dick



Thu, 08 Oct 1992 00:12:03 GMT  
 FORTRAN as First Language for CS Majors?

     You mean that they actually have the FORTRAN 90 definition finished
enough so that some poor souls are writing compilers for it??  Who might this
be?  Any of the big 3 or 4 (IBM, Digital, UniSys, Siemens)?

     Also, if anyone has a copy of the final language definition of FORTRAN
90, please send me a copy.  All I have is some preliminary work of 8X.
Thanks.
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|  Arnold Gill                        |                                     |
|  Queen's University at Kingston     |     If I hadn't wanted it heard,    |



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Thu, 08 Oct 1992 01:05:00 GMT  
 FORTRAN as First Language for CS Majors?
Oakland U. seldom if ever offers a Fortran course.  I have found that in
my experience in industry(Ford and Parke-Davis) that Fortran is the
exclusive language used for all of the engineering and scientific code,
except C is used for interfacing to graphics code.


Thu, 08 Oct 1992 02:04:57 GMT  
 FORTRAN as First Language for CS Majors?
Here at Brandeis, I can't even get Cosi credit for my Fortran class
(which counts as a physics department class) and I was told that the
class is basically the same as the Intro to Programming classes
(offered in C and Pascal in the Cosi department).
--
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MB 3130/Brandeis University  | For those about to Rock, we salute you!
PO Box 9110 Waltham MA 02254 | Life's a beach & then you drown! Catch the Wave


Thu, 08 Oct 1992 04:28:56 GMT  
 FORTRAN as First Language for CS Majors?

Quote:

>>If you know of exceptions, where FORTRAN IS actually
>>used in the first course for CS majors, would
>>you please send me an e-mail note?

>University of California, Berkeley
>Engineering 7: FORTRAN 77

>Required for all engineering majors.

But not, presumably, of CS majors?  I believe that at Columbia, Fortran
is required of engineering, but not of CS majors.

uxa.cso.uiuc.edu!mark says, in another posting:

Quote:

>It is funny that you ask this question.  I am a senior in CS at Uof Illinois,
>and have never had any fortran.

>When I landed my summer job at Fermi National Accelerator Lab, they said
>I would be programming in... fortran.

One thing I will say:  Fortran is easier to learn than most languages,
and the principles of structured design are probably easier to learn
using other languages;  then applying them to Fortran is not difficult.
So I'm not sure it matters that Fortran is not much taught to CS majors.
If, later, they move to Fortran, I don't think they'll have much problem.
(I'm sure I'm gonna be flamed for this....)

        -P.
************************f*u*cn*rd*ths*u*cn*gt*a*gd*jb**************************
Peter S. Shenkin, Department of Chemistry, Barnard College, New York, NY  10027

***"In scenic New York... where the third world is only a subway ride away."***



Sat, 10 Oct 1992 20:46:37 GMT  
 FORTRAN as First Language for CS Majors?

Quote:

>     You mean that they actually have the FORTRAN 90 definition finished
>enough so that some poor souls are writing compilers for it??  Who might this
>be?  Any of the big 3 or 4 (IBM, Digital, UniSys, Siemens)?

Finished is a relative term... The functionality is supposed to be frozen at
this point... but even that is open for debate.  There are pages of edits
to the document to clear up wording, etc.  And there is still debate on
various features.  

There's potentially another public review in the U.S. and there are still
protests from the first public review to be answered.  Once those protests
are answered, there may be appeals, etc...

Finished is a relative term...



Sat, 10 Oct 1992 21:29:45 GMT  
 FORTRAN as First Language for CS Majors?

It is funny that you ask this question.  I am a senior in CS at Uof Illinois,
and have never had any fortran.

When I landed my summer job at Fermi National Accelerator Lab, they said
I would be programming in... fortran.
I attended a (very interesting) lecture on the simulation of
severe weather events by the National Center for SuperComputing Applications,
and asked the queestion what language the source was written in, and
the answer was ... fortran.

Not that I would ever criticize (ha!) the department head for lack
of any type of real world experience..  They're also removing C...

My $.02 worth
--------------------------------------------------------------

University of Illinois       UUCP:      uunet!uiucuxc!uxa!mark



Sat, 10 Oct 1992 08:30:15 GMT  
 FORTRAN as First Language for CS Majors?

Quote:
>One thing I will say:  Fortran is easier to learn than most languages,
>and the principles of structured design are probably easier to learn
>using other languages;  then applying them to Fortran is not difficult.
>So I'm not sure it matters that Fortran is not much taught to CS majors.
>If, later, they move to Fortran, I don't think they'll have much problem.

I am a chemist, not an engineer or a CS person.  I am also self-taught
with the exception of one CS course. I learned in the following order:
BASIC, (6502) assembler, Pascal, PL/I, Fortran, C.

I did the first three before starting college.  My advisor suggested
that with my computer experience, I could probably get credit for
Computer Science 101 by testing (this is the science/engineering
course at U. Illinois, not normally taken by CS majors).  I picked up
a book on Fortran, read it, and the next day took the test.  I passed.
I actually wrote my first Fortran program three years later.

This is a proof-by-example that Peter is right:  Once you learn how to
PROGRAM, the languages come pretty easily.

BTW, the one course I did take was Illinois' first course for CS
majors.  They used PL/I (this was 1982, one year before they switched
to Pascal).
--


University of Florida
Gainesville, FL  32611          904/392 6365



Sun, 11 Oct 1992 00:53:30 GMT  
 
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