Minutes of a meeting on Thursday

16th December 1971 at B.C.S.

Headquarters, 29 Portland Place

London W.1 at 10.30 a.m.

PRESENT:          Mr J.S. Gatehouse (Chairman)    G.E.C.

Mr R.L. Butchart                D.T.I.

Dr A.C. Day                     University College, London

Mr I.D. Hill                    M.R.C.

Mr I.D.K. Kelly                 Olympic Computer Services

Mr D.J. Maisey                  I.C.L.

Mr F.A. Perris                  I.C.I.

Mr K. St Pier                   G.E.C.

Mr D.T. Muxworthy (Secretary)   Edinburgh R.C.C.


FOR ABSENCE:      Mrs M.M. Barritt                Edinburgh R.C.C.

Mr P.D. Bond                    Philips Industries

Mr R.E. Day                     Edinburgh R.C.C.

Dr M. Kennedy                   Queens University, Belfast

Mr D.H. Marwick                 Heriot-Watt University

Dr I.C. Pyle                    A.E.R.E., Harwell

Professor P.A. Samet            University College, London

Mr B.H. Shearing                Alcock Shearing & Partners


l.  APPROVAL OF         The minutes of the meeting held on Thursday 21st October

    MINUTES             1971 were approved. The agenda was re-arranged so that

matters arising from the minutes appear at point 5


2.  PROGRESS WITH       The ISO Secretariat had informed the Secretary that the

    STANDARDS           draft ISO Fortran Standard (DR 1539) had been submitted

to the ISO Council for approval as a Recommendation in

October 1971 and a final decision was expected by the

end of the year. (The Draft is available via BSI).

The Chairman said that the decision would almost cer-

tainly be to accept the Draft and pointed out that all

approvals up to now had been as Recommendations whereas

other languages may become Standards; it was therefore

possible that Fortran may never be standardized by ISO.

It was decided to recommend to BSI that they should           DTM

arrange to reissue the ISO document with a BSI cover.

The Secretary reported that he was preparing a brief-

note for submission to the Computer Bulletin which was

intended to draw attention to existing Fortran Standards

and to current Standards activities. This would be a

personal contribution rather than a Specialist Group


Mr Hill and Mr Kelly reported that they had made

personal submissions to the ANSI X3J3 Fortran Subcommittee

and Mr Hill had also sent the same paper to the Editor of

Computer Bulletin.

3.  REPORTS FROM  a.    Extensions Working Party. Copies of the working

    THE WORKING         party's second report "Some Comments on extending

    PARTIES             Fortran", were understood to have reached all

members of the ANSI X3J3 Fortran Subcommittee in

time for their November meeting. Copies were

distributed at this meeting (and subsequently to

everyone on the Group's mailing list). This

document was compiled hurriedly and it was

intended to amplify it to make a third report

which would include both majority and minority


There was some discussion on the evaluation of

mixed-mode expressions as the method proposed in

the report drew a number of objections concerned

with efficiency, ambiguity and precision. It was

conceded that there was no single best solution

acceptable to both Fortran program and compiler


b.    Diagnostics Working Party. Mr Hill drew

attention to the discussion on tracing which was

included in "Some Comments on extending Fortran".

The next meeting of the working party was still               PAS

to be arranged. It was suggested that the

working party should aim to publish a report

presenting both advantages and disadvantages of

diagnostics in the Computer Bulletin in the third

quarter of 1972.


c.    Small Machine Working Party. No information was


d.    Free Format Working Party. The Chairman of the

Working Party was about to distribute a circular to

all members of the Group. Mr Gatehouse said that              DHM

ISO and BSI were now considering new fields for

standarization and it may be that they should

include time-sharing standards.

4.  FUTURE        a.    All BCS Specialist Groups have been invited to

    ACTIVITIES          participate in Datafair 73, for example to

    FOR THE             organize a complete session or a seminar or to

    GROUP               provide papers, chairmen or referees. It was

decided to take the new ANSI Standard as a theme

and to organize a half day presentation and

discussion session; no particular day or time

was to be requested. The Chairman of the Data-                DTM

fair 73 Committee was to be informed; no Group

representative would attend the January 6 meeting

of that Committee.

b.    The Civil Service Department have issued a report

"High level languages in Government" which

ignores Fortran and considers PL/I, COBOL, Algol 68

and a new language for CSD, none of which were

found acceptable. The Chairman said that a future

activity for the Group was clearly the promotion of

Fortran and recommended that the Group take part in a

two-day conference proposed for October 1972 entitled

"High Level Languages - The way ahead". The

organizing committee included representatives from

the Specialist Groups for Algol, PL/I and Advanced

Programming and was chaired by Dr D. Hartley of

Cambridge University. Mr R. Day was to be asked to            DTM/RED

be the Group's representative.

c.    Messrs W.H. Allen are to publish a book entitled

"Computer Programming Made Simple" and the BCS has

been asked to examine it prior to publication. It

was decided that Messrs Gatehouse and Kelly should            JSG/IDKK

check the chapter on Fortran against the ANSI


d.    It was suggested that the Group might help the BCS

to extend its range of publications by for example

producing a Code of Fortran Practice. There was a

requirement for advice on how to write programs, how

to write programs for more than one computer, for a

teaching manual, for a description of the Standard

in non-ANSI terms and so on. The matter was left

for further consideration. Dr A.C. Day's book,

"Fortran Techniques" to be published by Cambridge

University Press may be expected to fill some current


e.    The list of suggested activities appended to the

minutes of the meeting of October 21st was con-

sidered. After some discussion the following

conclusions were reached: (i) that although a series

of public lectures may be thought desirable the

Group could not see its way to organizing them at

present, (ii) that two experimental symposia be held

during the first half of 1972 (see below), (iii) that

if these symposia be successful more would be held

during 1972/3, (iv) that successful talks should be

repeated outside London (v) that suggestions for              All

further activities or symposia would be welcome, and

(vi) that any Group member who could organize an              All

appropriate activity was earnestly requested to

volunteer to do so.

Dr Day was to request Professor Samet to lead a               ACD/PAS

symposium on Efficiency in Programs and would himself

give a talk on the Fortran Macro Processor. A room

to hold about 50 people would be booked, possibly at

University College London, and exact dates and times

would be fixed later. It was envisaged that the

meetings would be held in March and May 1972 and that

they would be in the evening. The possibility of

charging admission fees was raised but this was not

thought appropriate for these meetings.

5.  MATTERS        a.   The Group's offer to help ensure that any

    ARISING FROM        algorithm which was published in Fortran by

    THE MINUTES         the BCS conformed so far as possible with the

ANSI Standard was reiterated to the new editor

of the Computer Journal Algorithms Supplement.

No reply had yet been received.

Mr Hill said that he was to become Algorithms

Editor for the journal Applied Statistics and

would welcome such help. It was decided to                    DTM/RED

ask Mr R. Day to become official contact within

the Group and that algorithms should be passed by

Mr Hill to him for distribution to one of a list

of volunteers. Mr Hill also said that he had

prepared a note on the writing of algorithms in

Algol and would submit an extension to include

Fortran to the Group for comment.

b.    The Group recognize that the editors of the

Society's journals have complete editorial

authority but are prepared to advise them on

matters related to Fortran.

c.    The apparently irrelevant heading in the December

Computer Bulletin to the Chairman's reply (p 429)

to Mr Sandhir's letter was due to the practice of

retaining the same title for a series of corres-


d.    As no approach to the Technical Board on the

question of closer liaison between language

specialist groups had been made it was decided

not to pursue this course but to use the High

Level Language conference organizing committee

for such liaison.

6.  OTHER         a.    The Group had been asked whether it had a biblio-

    BUSINESS            graphy for Fortran, particularly Fortran teaching

books. No one present was aware of such a work;

the journal Computing Reviews was recommended as a             DTM


b.    The attention of the meeting was drawn to a

conference "Computers - Systems and Technology"

organized jointly by BCS, IEE and IERE, and to

be held in London on October 24 - 26, 1972.

7.  DATE OF NEXT        The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, 19th April

    MEETING             1972 at 10.30 a.m. The place for the meeting will be

      shown at the head of the agenda which will be distributed

      about two weeks beforehand.



The minutes of the meeting of 21st October 1971 include an appendix showing

the ANSI X3J3 list of extension ideas after meeting 29 of that committee. The

following changes to the list appeared after meeting 30 (22-24 September 1971):


Item        Old status    New status            Item       Old status    New status

  13             1             A                  71                          N

  19             1             A                  74            5             N

  20                           3                  78                          3

  34                           N                  81                          5

  39                           A                  83                          N

  45                           2                  89                          2

  47             3             N                  93                          N

  52                           N                 124                          A

  54                           3                 128                          2

  56             1             A                 132                          3

  61                           N                 140                          A

  69                           A                 141                          A

  70                           5                 153                          N


154-2-3      Allow real constants to have more digits than processor

             can use.

155-3        Define some intrinsic functions for some machine dependent

             values (ref. SIGNUM newsletter, Jan 1971 pp 10-15).

156-3        Define function to produce +1.0 for X>0., 0. for x = 0.,

             -1.0 for X<0.

157-5        One statement to interchange two values.

158-6        Define initial position of I/O Units.

159-4        Allow limited expressions in DATA statements.

160-3        Allow dummy arg. to be equivalenced to non-common,

             non-dummy arg. array.

D.T. Muxworthy