British Computer Society Fortran Specialist Group
Minutes of a meeting held on 7th June, 1976 in the Staff Common Room at the
Polytechnic of Central London, 115 New Cavendish Street, London W.1.
Mr. B. H. Shearing (Acting Chairman) Alcock, Shearing and Partners
Mr. J. P. Arslett Shell International Petroleum
Mr. G. N. Ashley I.C.L.
Mr. J. D. Beasley Rothamsted Experimental Station
Dr. A. C. Day U.C.L.
Mr. M. R. Dolbear B.P.
Mr. J. L. Dyke Huntingdon Research Centre
Mr. P. J. Hansom Honeywell I. S.
Mr. D. Hill C.C.F.
Dr. I. D. Hill M.R.C.
Mr. D. J. Holmes Rolls Royce (1971) Ltd.
Dr. J. Hutton SRC Rutherford Laboratory
Mr. R. C. Hutty Leicester Polytechnic
Mr. J. R. Jones Liverpool City Council
Mr. M. Lewis Imperial College Computer Centre
Mr. P. Loftus Marconi-E1liott Avionic Systems Ltd.
Mr. G. N. Mullery Ferranti Ltd., Bracknell
Dr. J. Murchland Traffic Studies, U.C.L.
Mr. K. Normington Lanchester Polytechnic
Mr. T. D. Palmer Computer Power
Mr. R. W. S. Rodwell I.C.L.
Mr. P. A. Clarke (Secretary) Rothamsted Experimental Station
Apologies for Absence:
Mr. D. Muxworthy (Chairman) University of Edinburgh
Mr. G. Harding Leeds University
Mr. Shearing took the chair in the absence of Mr. Muxworthy who was unable to be
l. Approval of Minutes
The minutes of the 5th of April were approved subject to the following corrections:
(l) The name of Dr. D. Clifford of Digital Equipment Company should have
appeared among the list of those present. (2) Mr. Greenwood should have
been Dr. Greenwood. (3) On page 2 'complemented' should have been 'complimented'
and 'concensus' should have been 'consensus'.
2. Matters arising from the Minutes
Item 2: Pauline Walters of the BCS headquarters staff had checked with the
accountant and informed the secretary that subscriptions to specialist
Groups do not count for income tax relief.
3. Election of vice-chairperson
No names were forthcoming for the position of vice-chairperson. Any person willing
to take on this duty should contact one of the officers. Mr. Shearing has agreed to
act as the groups representative on the BCS Specialist Groups Committee.
4. Activities of other Fortran Groups
4.1 ANSI X3J3 Activities and discussion of public Comments sent to ANSI.
Mr. Shearing described the main points raised at the February l0-12 and
March 31 - April 2 Meetings of the ANSI X3J3 Committee. These included
changes to the syntax of the PARAMETER statement to permit constant expressions
and typing according to normal Fortran rules. And an extended Gw.dEe
Format edit descriptor which acts as Fw.d or Ew.d.Ee depending on the
magnitude of the datum.
The next X3J3 meetings are scheduled for l2 July 1976 - to discuss public
comments, and for September 1976 when, assuming all comments are resolved,
the new standard will be adopted. Mr. Shearing then asked Mr. Lewis
to describe comments received from the public.
Mr. Lewis said that he had received six letters and immediately prior
to the meeting had been given a large list of comments made by BSI. He
had not had time to study the latter but he would try to extract some of the
more important points. Dr. I.D. Hill who had chaired the BSI meeting gave
a brief description of it (see 4.4.5 below). The comments were then
considered individually and a vote taken by those present either on the
comment as it was or on a principle indicated by several comments. A vote
was taken on the proposed IF-THEN-ELSE construct. The resulting votes
(see Appendix A) were sent to X3J3.
Dr. Day said that he had been invited to a BCS Standards Committee meeting
(See 4.4.6 below) to describe the proposed ANSI Fortran Standard and the
comments made by the working party to review the standard.
Mr. Shearing said that the BCS Standards Committee had mounted a duplicate
exercise to that of the Fortran Specialist Group to obtain public comments on
the proposed standard. This was because, at our February meeting (Item 4.1)
no-one was prepared to take any action to form a consensus view on the
Standard - in the form of a summary of public comments. Mr. Muxworthy
had informed the Standards Committee of this, together with the warning that it
would take too long to produce such a document before the June 30th deadline
for public comments. This obviously had not been sufficient to deter the
Standards Committee from such an exercise.
Mr. Shearing said that he would try to investigate the relationship of
the Standards Committee to Specialist Groups at the next Specialist
Mr. Clarke said that several members of the group had been promoting the
draft standard and these included Dr. K. V. Roberts (of Culham Lab.) who
has given a talk on 'The New Fortran Standard' at a Symposium on Software
held in Belfast on 8th April, Mr. P. A. Clarke (Rothamsted) gave a talk
to Agricultural Research Council computer users on 'Fortran Developments'
at Rothamsted on 12th April, Mr. R. Hutty (Leicester Polytechnic) had
held a seminar at the Polytechnic to discuss the 'new draft standard'
during the first week in June, Dr. I. D. Hill and Mr. W. S. Hilder are
to give a seminar on 'The proposed new Fortran Standard' at Clinical
Research Centre of the MRC on 23rd June.
P.S. X3J3 have extended the public comment period to 28 September, 1976.
4.2 Fortran Development Committee
We have received the April edition of the FOR-WORD newsletter (Vol 2 No. 2
pages 11-16). This contains details of the IF-THEN-ELSE proposal,
details of the X3J3 meeting of March 31-April 2 and correspondence.
The calendar of events in the USA includes: A panel discussion on "Why
(or IF) Fortran will survive" to be held at the NCC, New York on 7-10
June, participants include P. Schneck, F. Engel, A. Ralston and L. Meissner.
A meeting on "Highlights of the New Fortran Standard" will be held at the
ACM 1976 Annual Conference, Houston on 20-22 October.
4.3 CODASYL FDBML Committee
The minutes of the 11th meeting held on 3-5 March l976 have been received.
The main items discussed include (i) adoption of standard Fortran rules for
comments, margins and continuation for DML statements (ii) Improvements to the
ALIAS statement (which can be used, for example, to map COBOL names to
Fortran names) in the DDL.
Good progress has been made on the Fortran database facility and the latest
draft (version 0.5) has been received from Dr. Chester M. Smith, the
chairman of the committee who indicates that comments on this on a point-
by-point basis would be welcomed.
It is the impression of the committee that the first version (l.0) of
their Journal of Development will be available and complete after meeting
number 13 in July 1976.
4.4 Other Groups
4.4.1 International Standards Organisation (ISO/TC97/SC5)
A letter has been sent from the ISO Secretariat to ANSI X3 indicating that
the ISO committee will meet on 16 July 1976 to discuss whether or not to
revise the ISO/R1539 Fortran Standard.
4.4.2 European Computer Manufacturers Association (ECMA)
ECMA had planned to meet on 4th June 1976 to make final comments on the
draft ANS Fortran Standard. No details have been received yet.
4.4.3 Purdue Workshop
Corresponence has been received from Mrs. Maxine Hands and Matthew R. Gordon-
C1ark together with copy of the latest revisions of Instrument Society of
America (ISA) standards: ISA S61.1-1975, procedures for executive
functions, process input/output and bit manipulation. Draft ISA S61.2 -
(2-11-76), procedures for file access and the control of file contention.
The work on ISA S61.3 on tasking is reported to be proceeding slowly.
4.4.4 Dutch Fortran Study Group
Correspondence has been received from Mr. Heyns. The Dutch group have
sent proposals to ANSI to delete the assigned GO TO statement and the
ASSIGN statement. They present some convincing arguments - such as the
irregular use of INTEGER variables to hold 'LABEL' information. Those
present thought that the proposal was unlikely to succeed on the grounds
that the feature was fairly heavily used.
4.4.5 British Standards Institute (BSI DPS/13)
Dr. I. D. Hill reported that a meeting of BSI DPS/13 had been held on 27
May to consider comments on the draft proposed ANS Fortran revision. Those
present consisted of members of BSI and some representatives from other
groups namely Mr. A. M. Conybeare (BSI Technical Officer and Secretary
to DPS/13), Dr. I. D. Hill (acting Chairman, representing BCS)
Mr. A. Addyman (ALLC), Mr. H. Pitcher (NCC), M. D. Maisey (ECMA), Dr. A. C. Day
(UCL), Mr. B. Chapman (BETA) and Mr. P. A. Clarke (BCS Fortran S. G.).
About 90 comments were considered and after discussion, 102 comments
were forwarded to the BSI executive to forward co X3J3. The comments were
categorised as general comments, matters of substance and editorial detail.
BSI has a vote on the ISO committee and may insist on a few changes to
4.4.6 BCS Standards Committee
Dr. Day said that Mr. F. Taylor had invited him to the next BCS Standards
Committee meeting on 17 June to discuss the draft proposed FORTRAN standard
and the working party review of it. This he had accepted because it would give
him the chance to complain about the content of the review paper being leaked
to the press prior to publication.
Mr. Muxworthy had received a note saying that the BCS Standards committee
were considering becoming the official distributors of the revised
U.S. Navy Fortran test suite. He had replied saying that on the basis
of our experiences with the early version, the suite itself should be
well tested before release. He also hoped that intervention by the BCS
would not increase the price to end users.
5. Progress Reports
5.1 Promotion Working Party
Mr. Clarke said that the draft Fortran contact list had been revised and
would be distributed with the minutes of the meeting.
P. S. Please note that Dr. A. C. Days address should read '19 Gordon St,'
not 'Gower St.'
The Introductory document for new and prospective members of the group also
5.2 Other Reports
5.2.1 Preprocessor Working Party
Dr. Murchland said that the objectives of the working party were published
as an appendix to the minutes. So far, the main activities had been in
circulating relevant articles and comments. Suggestions had been circulated
on Fortran record convention, redefinition of comments, conventions for use
of comments to contain commands for code processors, standard numbering of
Fortran Statements, alternative continuation convention for Fortran and
mixed upper/lower case listings of Fortran.
It had been decided to investigate two structured preprocessors, MORTRAN
which employs macro principles and FLECS which is conventional. It was
hoped that these would be easy to obtain at little expense.
5.2.2 U.S. Navy Tests
The U.S. Navy tests that had been sent to Mr. Martyn Thomas at SWURCC
(Bath University) had been run on ICL 2900 Fortran F0 and Fl compilers by
Ann Rogers. A written report is expected shortly. The Fl compiler
is for use with the system K operating system. The F0 compiler is for
use with the system B operating system. Fl and F0 are supposed to be
compatible - currently there are some minor differences. With the tests,
the main cause of problems was the sequence ,/, in Formats (an extension
over the l966 ANSI standard) used in some of the tests (and permitted on
many or most compilers). Some 6H Hollerith constants caused problems too.
Some comment cards starting C*** were taken as end-of-file by the operating
6. Any Other Business
Dr. Clifford (the speaker at the last meeting) has sent a photocopy of the
slides describing DEC Fortran (for PDP8 and 11) and compiling techniques. This
is available on request from the secretary.
Dr. Murchland commented that the Fortran books in the BCS Library were mostly
elementary. None had the word 'advanced' in the title. The group decided to
inform the librarian that we recommend 'Fortran Techniques' by Dr. A. C. Day,
published by Cambridge University Press, 1972 (reprinted 1974) £1-40.
Mr. Clarke had noted some interesting articles on Fortran in the CERN
newsletter by Mr. M. Metcalf. These would be particularly useful to users of CDC
P.S. Concerning the efficiency aspects of (overlayed) programs on IBM 360 and
370 (see December 1975 Minutes), a modification to the IBM system software
has been received from the Stanford Linear Accelerator Laboratory.
This has the effect_of making a significant (20-30 percent) increase in
throughput. Copy available from the secretary.
The Annual report of the group is attached (Appendix B).
7. Date of Next Meeting: Monday 4th October 1976
8. Dr. I. D. Hill (MRC) gave a talk on "Language Standards and Algorithm
Editing" (see Appendix C for details).
M E M O R A N D U M
From: B.C.S. Fortran Specialist Group To: Lloyd Campbell, Secretary,
Date: l4th June, l976
Subject: Public Comments on the draft proposed Fortran Standard
The following straw ballots were taken at our meeting of 7th June 1976 and
relate to some British public comments on the draft proposed Fortran Standard.
A null character string should be allowed.
The collating sequence of letters and digit should not overlap.
To facilitate handling of characters as small integers, there should be provided functions for converting between the numerical value of the 'position in the ASCII code' of the character and the character representation of the character.
Processors that support non-ASCII characters, should map them onto some ASCII equivalent. An R1 Format descriptor should also be provided to input/output characters as small integers.
A line containing blanks in columns l through 72 should be treated in all respects as a comment line.
The ability to append comment information to statements should be provided.
The order of statements in general should be more restrictive.
DATA statements should not be allowed throughout the executable statements.
Delete the 'Generic' function facility.
Add user defined Generic functions.
Filenames should not be in Fortran but mapped external to Fortran.
Filenames should not be in Fortran but mapped external to Fortran.PARAMETER syntax should be changed so that processors employing the extension of names with more than 6 letters do not confuse PARAMETERX = Y for example with an assignment statement.
Note that X3J3 may chose to extend the length of names in a future revision.
The group preferred an existing syntax. (The relative merits of the DATA and EQUIVALENCE statements syntax were discussed).
The length of names should be increased beyond 6 characters.
Names with more than 6 characters should be allowed, but only the first 6 should be significant.
Include the proposed IF-THEN-ELSE structure.
BCS FORTRAN SPECIALIST GROUP ANNUAL REPORT l975/76
The original reason for the formation of the Group in January 1970
was to attempt to influence the revision of the American Standard for Fortran,
work on which was expected to take a couple of years. The publication of
the draft standard has been expected annually since 1972 but during this
year it finally appeared (on March 1 1976). The Group may reasonably claim
to have had some influence on the draft and it has well-established links
with the ANSI Fortran committee. The draft is not yet a standard: various
rounds of voting have to take place and it is not impossible that major
revisions may yet be made. The group bought 50 copies of the draft standard
and distributed them at cost to members in the U.K.
Throughout the year the Group has closely followed developments
with the draft standard and it has made its opinions known to ANSI. Contacts
have been maintained and papers exchanged with the CODASYL Fortran DBLM
Committee, the Fortran Development Committee, the Fortran Committee of ECMA,
and the Dutch Fortran Study Group.
A working party, chaired by Dr A.C. Day, has compiled a report on
the draft American Standard. The report is to be sent to ANSI and is to be
published in the August 1976 Computer Journal. Another working party, under
the chairmanship of Dr J.D. Murchland, has been formed to investigate Fortran
Following a member survey, the pattern of meetings has been changed
this year; they now occupy a full day with discussion sessions in the
morning and a more formal talk in the afternoon. The topics covered have
included: Compiling on mini-computers, Optimizing Compilers, Structured
Fortran and other preprocessors and there were two talks on particular
manufacturers' Fortran, viz. DEC and Univac.
There have been 6 meetings during the year with an average
attendance of 18; the mailing list has grown to over 150 and efforts are
being made to prune it and to introduce a subscription for non-BCS members.
The present chairman and secretary, D.T. Muxworthy and P.A. Clarke, were
re-elected for 1976-77; the vice-chairman, E.O. Bodger, has been relocated
by his employers and is now reporting on Fortran events in California for
the group. This would be an appropriate place to thank him, other past and
present officers and members of the steering committee and working parties,
staff of the Technical/Branches division at BCS HQ and our speakers during
the year for all their work for the Group.
25 May 1976
Summary of a talk by Dr. I. D. Hill on Language Standards and
Dr. Hill related some of his experiences that had derived from being
the Algorithms Section Editor for the Journal of Applied Statistics during the
last four years.
The initial problem in setting up an algorithms section was in the choice
of languages to be allowed. Earlier the CACM had chosen Algol 60, followed
later by Fortran. Appl. Stat. decided upon Algol 60 as defined in the
revised report, Fortran, to ASA 1966 standard and PL/1 as defined in the IBM
The next problem was whether to permit any extensions and minor
differences to the standard. As there was no agreed set of extensions, it was
decided to follow the standard to the word. Despite this, some of the first
algorithms to be published did contain a few extensions, e.g. AS2 contains a DATA
statement specifying an array name.
This decision also means that some petty restrictions in the standard are
enforced - for example, a Hollerith string containing colon might be permitted
but a comment line containing colon would not.
Some common errors that have been found are: assuming a variable local
to a subroutine remains defined upon return, using assignment and IF statements
to move and compare Hollerith strings and referencing functions with a
Hollerith constant as an argument (this is permitted for subroutines).
In addition to enforcing programs to be standard conforming, the
editors expect a reasonable standard of programming, and also recommend some
conventions in situations where the language permits alternative methods of
expression (Ref: Journal of Royal Statistical Society, Series C (Applied
Statistics) Vol 24 No. 3, 1975 pp 366-373).
For example code such as that found in the article by D. J. Evans and
M. Hatzopoulos in the current issue (Vol 19, No. 2, May 76) of the Computer
Journal contains many examples of subscript expressions such as: A(J,N+P+1-
I-J-K)=A(J,N+P+1-I- J-K)+S*A(I,P+K) which as well as being non-standard, should
also have been evaluated in advance. The Algorithms section Editor would have
returned this as something to be 'reconsidered'.
Other examples of this type, that have been submitted include things like
D=-l.0*(B-C) instead of D=C-B and even W=B**C followed by W=ALOG(W)/ALOG(B)
instead of W=C. The code 1.0/SQRT(44.0/7.0) for 1/√(2π) should be reduced to
the constant 0.3989422804.
The conventions recommended by the algorithms editor include: using
labels in consecutive ascending order; for fault handling, the last argument of
the subprogram should be called IFAULT and should be set to zero if no faults
occur, or some other value if faults do occur; logical IF is preferred to
arithmetic IF where appropriate; comment lines should not duplicate the
introductory text; function names should follow the implicit typing rules so
that the user does not have to include type statements in the referencing
program; the constants 0.5 and l.0 are preferable to .5 and 1. ; All DO loops
should end with CONTINUE and Input/output should not appear in the algorithms
(except when they are specifically designed for input/output).
It is interesting to note that very few algorithms are accepted without some
change. To enhance the appearance of the published algorithms, a Fortran layout
program (FLOP) has been used.