BRITISH COMPUTER SOCIETY FORTRAN SPECIALIST GROUP
Minutes of a Meeting held on
Friday, 18th May 1973 at
Barnard's Inn, Holborn Bars,
London EC1 at 10.30 a.m.
Present: Mr B.H. Shearing (Chairman) Alcock Shearing & Partners
Mr E.O. Bodger IBM Information Services
Mr P.D. Bond Philip Industries
Dr D.L. Bowers J. Harwell Data Processing Ltd.
Mr P.A. Clarke Rothamsted Experimental Station
Mr J.C. Cullen B.P.
Dr A. C. Day University College London
Mr R.E. Day Edinburgh Regional Computing Centre
Mr D. Ellison University of Manchester R.C.C
Mr I.D. Hill M.R.C.
Mr R. Mankin Olympic Computer Services Ltd.
Mr T.D. Palmer National Coal Board
Mr K. St.Pier GEC
Ms M. Spooner Computing
Mr T.L. van Raalte A.W.R.E. Aldermaston
Dr I.R. Williams Lloyds Register of Shipping
Mr D. Winstanley University of Birmingham
Mr R.T.J. Woollett University of London Computer Centre
Mr D.T. Muxworthy (Secretary) Edinburgh Regional Computing Centre
Apologies Mr P.J. Hammond B.P.
for absence: Mr D.H. Marwick Heriot-Watt University
1. APPROVAL OF The minutes of the meeting of the 2nd March
MINUTES 1973 were approved.
2. MATTERS ARISING a. Mr Shearing read out a letter to the
FROM THE Editor of the Computer Journal from
MINUTES himself and the Secretary discussing
the problem of technically unsound
letters being published in the Journal.
There had as yet been no reply but a
letter to the Journal concerned with
Fortran had been sent to Mr Shearing
b. The Editor of the Journal and the
Chairman of X3J3 had been approached
with a view to publishing the draft
Fortran standard in the Journal.
Mr Engel was personally in favour,
so long as publication did not precede
publication in the U.S.A., and he was
to obtain the views of X3J3, CBEMA and
the American National Standards Institute.
Mr Hemmersley definitely wanted to publish
the Standard and this could be accomplished
with as little as three months between
receipt and publication.
Mr Engel had indicated that "publication
might take place after the first of the
year". He also mentioned that the
American National Standards Institute
had directed that the acronyms ANS and
ANSI be not used, except on internal
documents, because of a prior claim by the
American Nuclear Society.
c. Dr Day's report on the ISO TC97/SC5 meeting
in Washington in November was now available,
price 30p post free, from the Librarian,
University College Computer Centre, 19 Gordon
Street, London WClH 0AH. The Group thanked
Dr Day for his work in connection with this
d. This meeting of the Group had been announced
in Computer Weekly as well as in Computing.
Of people who had not previously attended,
three had seen a notice there and one in
Computing; the sets were not mutually
exclusive. It was decided that direct
mailing was the best means of announcing
e. Mr Kelly had indicated since the last meeting
that he was still working on the "traps for
the unwary" project.
3. OFFICERS Mr B.H. Shearing was elected Chairman for l973-74
FOR THE and Mr D.T. Muxworthy Secretary. The position
COMING YEAR of vice-chairman was left vacant for the time being;
any volunteers are asked to communicate with the
4. BUDGET FOR The standard Specialist Group budget of £4O had
THE COMENG proved adequate because reprographic and mailing
YEAR costs had been carried by the secretary's employers.
However if this were not to be the case in the
future it was likely that more money would be forth-
coming from the BCS.
5. ANNUAL REPORT It was decided that the Chairman and BHS/DTM
Secretary should write the Group's
contribution (v. Appendix 1) to the BCS
Annual Report. This formerly was
published in the Computer Bulletin;
Mr Shearing was to raise the question BHS
of publication at the next Specialist
Group Chairmen's meeting.
6. DATAFAIR The Group's presentation at Datafair had
been very successful. There was an
audience of 25 and a lively discussion
ensued. A letter of thanks was read
from Mr R.G. Fiddes on behalf of the
7. USE OF SPECIALIST Since the previous meeting no member
GROUPS FOR of the Group had indicated that he did
ADVERTISING not wish his name to appear in address
lists hired out by the BCS to advertisers.
Dr Day wanted to withdraw his name from
such a list following his resignation
from the Society partly as a protest at
the alleged inefficiencies at BCS
headquarters. Examples were given of
other fund-raising projects, such as a
request to initiate and chair a conference
to be organized by IBC, being circularized
to chairmen of specialist groups.
After some discussion it was decided not BHS
to send an address list to BCS for the
time being and that Mr Shearing would seek
an assurance that an individual could
withdraw his name from any list which was
sent in the future.
8. BSI ACTIVITIES Dr Day had been invited to represent Fortran
on the BSI Programming Languages Committee
DPEl3. A sub-committee consisting of
Mr Hill, Mr Muxworthy and himself had been
formed to examine the ISO Fortran
Recommendation R/1539; essentially this
consists of the two 1966 American standards
and the 1965 ECMA standard. It was likely
that it would appear eventually also as a
ECMA are reviving interests in Fortran ACD
Standards and Dr Day was asked to bring
the existence of this Group to their
9. AMERICAN The minutes of the X3J3 meeting on March
STANDARDS 12-15 1973 were considered. The principal
ACTIVITIES decisions taken then were:
a. To rescind subarrays.
b. To change the syntax of PARAMETER
to the Univac form from the
c. To prohibit null character constants.
d. To allow P as a field description.
There were also a number of changes made
which regularized and clarified previous
The following motions failed:
a. To allow a CLOSE to specify 'KEEP'
when OPEN specified 'SCRATCH'
b. That, in effect, SAVE not apply
to a redefined initialized entity.
c. To rescind the extension to allow
format labels to appear in ASSIGN
It was decided to send comments on current
proposals to X3J3; these are shown in
There was some discussion on the possibility
that the entire Fortran revision may be
voted down. It was clear that volunteers
would be available from this group to study
the revised standard as a whole and to
suggest changes to make it more regular.
10. SUBSETTING The current thoughts of the subsetting group
of X3J3 were that the new Fortran Standard
should have three levels corresponding roughly
to the present ECMA standard, ANSI X3.9 and
the new full standard. Interest had been
expressed in forming a working party to make
recommendations from this Group and A
Mr Winstanley was to report on the feasibility DW
of this to the next meeting.
ll. WORKING PARTY a. Free Format. Copies of the current
REPORTS X3J3 proposal and Mr Marwick's
comments thereon were distributed at
the meeting; these, together with
a personal proposal for the free layout
of source code had been sent to members
of X3J3 and constituted the final report
of this subgroup.
The working party was formally wound up
and the Group expressed its thanks for the
considerable efforts Mr Marwick had made
for the working party.
b. Small Machines. It was decided to regard
this working party as defunct.
c. Extensions. This working party was
suspended; the function of commenting
on X3J3 activities had passed to the
12. OTHER BUSINESS a. No one was aware of the extent of the
changes made in the second edition of
the NCC Standard Fortran Manual. (It
has since come to light that the second
edition essentially consists of the
first edition with the errata list
applied, plus reproductions of ANSI
X3.9-l966 and the first set of ANSI
b. No one was aware of a paper, said to have
been published recently in CACM, setting
out recommended Fortran coding practices.
Anyone knowing the reference is asked to
communicate with the Secretary.
13. DATE OF The next meeting will be held at 10.30 a.m on
NEXT MEETING Friday, July 27th 1973 in the Tearoom of
l5 June 1973.
FORTRAN SPECIALIST GROUP ANNUAL REPORT l972-73
1. The main activity of the Group has continued to be cooperation with
committee X3J3 of ANSI in their drafting of a new Standard for
Fortran. We had previously sent two major technical reports to
ANSI, one of them published in the Computer Bulletin. This year
we have had five meetings and at each we have studied the decisions
taken by X3J3 and sent them detailed comments. We have reason to
believe that our efforts are very much appreciated by X3J3.
2. There are about 100 people on our list of members. Attendance at
meetings varies from 12 to 25.
3. The group led a Discussion Session at Datafair about the new Standard
for Fortran. About 25 attended, and the discussion following the
presentation was detailed, lively and long.
4. The group played a part in organizing the conference at York in High
Level Languages, which included a talk by B.H. Shearing about the
future of Fortran.
5. Two of our members attended the ISO meeting on programming languages
held in Washington in November, and our secretary attended a meeting
of X3J3 in Boston in July.
6. During the year our founder Chairman John Gatehouse resigned after
3 years in office, and B.H. Shearing took over. Our Secretary remains
Ref DTM/1298 Date 18 June 1973 Telephone 031-667 1081 Ext 2642
To: ANSC X3J3
From: D.T. Muxworthy for BCS Fortran Specialist Group.
Subject: Some comments on proposals under discussion.
I was asked to convey the following comments arising from the May 1973 meeting
of the group which considered the March minutes of X3J3.
1. PARAMETER Statement(/42,4.3)
A majority favoured the retention of the DATA - type syntax, which is
implemented on Honeywell systems ( /42,Jl Rationale 3 is incorrect);
those of us used to the Univac form are quite happy.
2. New Field Descriptors(/42,4.l0)
We approve P being a field descriptor and urge consideration of our
proposal for M(/42,G).
3. Input-output clarifications(/42,4.11)
We are still unhappy about the ungainliness of the input-output proposals
and again advocate our proposals(/40,N).
4. Hollerith constants(/42,4.l2)
We have some sympathy with the proposal not to allow apostrophes to delimit
Hollerith constants, thus distinguishing them syntactically from character
constants, but feel that apostrophes are so widely implemented that it is
now too late to go back.
5. Environmental enquiry(/42,ZA2,4.3)
We draw attention to our proposal for environmental queries in /32 p47.