BRITISH COMPUTER SOCIETY FORTRAN SPECIALIST GROUP
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
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.
BRITISH COMPUTER SOCIETY FORTRAN SPECIALIST GROUP
ANSI X3J3 - LIST OF EXTENSION IDEAS
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):
l. CHANGES IN STATUS
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
2. NEW ITEMS IN LIST
154-2-3 Allow real constants to have more digits than processor
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.