BRITISH COMPUTER SOCIETY - FORTRAN SPECIALIST GROUP


 Minutes of meeting held at BCS Headquarters on Monday 1 June 1981



Present:        J D Wilson (Chairman)    Leicester University

D M Vallance             Salford University

B Appleyard              BP Oil

M Nunn                   CCTA

P A Clarke               Rothamsted Experimental Station

T L van Raalte           MoD

D T Muxworthy            Edinburgh University

S G Brazier              Structural Dynamics Ltd

J Roberts Jones          Liverpool City Council

J D Murchland



1.      APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE


Apologies were received from Dr A Wilson (ICL).


2.      MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING [6 April 1981]


Item 9 should read X3J3 not X3Js. Mike Metcalf is spelt as shown here.


3.      MATTERS ARISING


3.1     Future meetings


Alan Wilson has arranged for Professor Parkinson to speak at QMC on

7 September 1981. His talk is entitled 'Parallel processing - what is it?'


Brian Shearing has agreed to speak on Portable Fortran on 30 November 1981

(this meeting will probably be held at Salford University).


The Secretary will write to Professor Parkinson and Brian Shearing to   Action

confirm these arrangements.                                           D M Vallance


The start time for the meeting at Salford will be decided after British

Rail timetables have been consulted so as to minimise expense and

inconvenience to members of the group.


The secretary was asked to contact Anton Walter (Harwell) as a possible  Action

speaker for the meeting on 1 February 1982.                            D M Vallance


The secretary Offered to speak on the subject of Fortran Compiler

writing on 5 April 1982 if the Committee so wished.


3.2     ISO programming languages meeting


The ISO programming languages meetings takes place from 5-9 October 1981

at ICL's Beaumont location.


The Chairman has written to the BCS secretariat recommending BCS

support for this meeting.


A reply was received which has been sent to Brian Meek for his further

action.


We are awaiting the ex~Chairman's signature in order to effect the      Action

transfer of the Group's bank account from Barclay's to Lloyds Bank.   J Roberts-

The Treasurer will contact Brian Meek regarding the previously agreed   Jones

£50 donation to the ISO meeting when the Group's funds are 'unfrozen'.


3.3     Salford Fortran 77 Seminar


This seminar has been cancelled owing to lack of bookings.


4.      TREASURER'S REPORT


The accounts have been audited and must be presented on a receipt and

payments basis and not on an income and expenditure basis. A copy

of the accounts appears as Appendix A of these minutes.


5.      BCS BUSINESS


5.1     Specialist Groups Board


There was a meeting of the Specialist Groups Board on 14 May 1981

at which the Chairman was present. The following points emerged

from that meeting:


5.1.1   Committee members


New rules state that all committee members of specialist groups should

normally be members of the BCS. Group committee members who are not

BCS members require permission from the Vice-President (Specialist

Board) or from the President in the case of a Chairman who is not a

BCS member.


A lenient view will, however, be taken this year. The Chairman has

written to the Vice-President on behalf of the FSG's non-BCS members.


5.1.2   Profits from conferences


The current rule is that 60% of any profit goes directly into BCS funds

and the remaining 40% to the Specialist Groups Board.


A proposal is to go to the BCS Committee that 25-50% of any profit

should go to the organising group and the remainder to the BCS which

would itself decide how to split this between the Central Fund and

the Specialist Groups Board.


5.1.3   Annual accounts


Annual accounts should be submitted before the end of May in the year

to which they refer.


5.1.4   Annual report


The Fortran Specialist Group's written annual report was prepared by

the Chairman and handed to the BCS Secretary General. (See Appendix B

of these minutes.) [The report actually appeared as Appendix A of the

minutes of the following meeting.]


5.1.5   Publications Committee


A new Publications Committee has been established to standardise production

of BCS publications such as monographs. It is suggested that each group

should aim at producing one every 5-6 years.


5.1.6   Specialist Group Meetings


The BCS is planning to produce a programme card to be enclosed with

COMPUTING, giving details of all Specialist Group meetings. It was

also suggested that a paper in the Bulletin could be dedicated to this

This implies that we must arrange at least the dates of all our meetings

for a complete year in advance.


5.1.7   BCS AGM


Wednesday 21 October 1981 at the Wembley Conference Centre.


5.2     Buffet lunches at FSG meetings


There was general agreement that the FSG should try a buffet lunch at

the February meeting.


5.3     Expenses for speakers


It was noted that some groups budget for expenses for visiting speakers

and for travelling expenses for committee members.


6.      FORTRAN FORUM


The Chairman will invoke the mechanism in order that the Forum will be

an official BCS event.


In arriving at the cost of the Forum, the Treasurer had made a number

of assumptions based on the experience of the previous Forum.


David Muxworthy agreed to circulate a draft programme for comment by the

organising committee, once agreed, this programme would be circulated

with the minutes.


THIS PROGRAMME AND AN APPLICATION FORM ARE ENCLOSED  [Not available for digitising.]


7.      X3J3 BUSINESS


7.1     Numerical Precision


Brian Smith has put in a new proposal on numerical precision for the May

meeting of X3J3.


7.2     Conformity


Alan Clarke has been developing the 'conformity issue'. A draft

is now available in word-processed form at Edinburgh University.

A major problem is that Alan Clarke and David Muxworthy cannot get

to X3J3 to press their ideas further. X3J3 accord exception handling

in Fortran because it can potentially restrict extension of the language.

There is a view that individual implementors should be left to provide

sensible action for exceptions.


The original conformity proposal was for Fortran 77. If adopted,

it would now be a part of Fortran 8X. The proposals will be amended

using the X3J3/S6 document as a basis. The Fortran 77 proposal will

be circulated to as many influential people in NBS/X3J3/BSI/CCTA as

possible.


7.3     Macros


Alan Clarke presented an overview of Fortran syntax macros which are

currently being considered by X3J3 for inclusion in Fortran 8X.

Appendix B is a draft of Alan Clarke's paper. He has also produced a

bibliography relating to macros in high level languages.


8.      Afternoon Session


Dr John Murchland gave a talk entitled "Fortran 1, RATFOR and the

Software Tools Package", in which he traced the development of Fortran

and the reasons for the existence of RATFOR and the now widely available

Software Tools Package. Valuable discussion ensued as the features of

RATFOR were compared with those now available in Fortran 77.




APPENDIX A



    THE BRITISH COMPUTER SOCIETY


Fortran Specialist Group


Receipts and Payments Account for the year ended 30th April, l981

(Please submit to HQ by 31st May)



£. p.                £. p.

Balance at beginning of year

Bank                                      298.02

Cash                                       43.00              341.02

Add:                Receipts

HQ Allocation                             241.48

Other income (Please specify) Subscription  2.00              243.48


Total balance and receipts                                    584.50


Less:                Payments


£. p.

Meeting Expenditure                        32.30

Group Mailing                             209.08

Secretarial                                 6.60

Committee

Professional

Project

Other Expenditure

(Please specify)                                


Total Payments                                                247.98


Balance at end of year - See note            below                (A)   £336.52


Note       1. The balance at the end of year was made up of:


   Bank                                   336.52

   Cash                                      -  

                                                                      (B)£336.52


(A and B should agree)




APPENDIX B



The Benefits of Macros in Fortran



        Because macros and compile-time facilities can be used for such a wide

range of purposes, it is important to allocate some priorities to each of

these to determine where effort should be expended to bring the greatest

benefit.



High Priority compile-time features


1. INCLUDE-like facility for substitution of blocks of text into subprograms.


Benefits:


(a) Better project management control over COMMON (or data structure)

    definition.


(b) COMMONS need only be manually changed in a single place (i.e in the

    INCLUDE file) and not throughout all subprograms - resulting in higher

    consistency and safety.


(c) Reduction in storage required for source text of programs.


2. Inter-procedure communication. This consists of providing keyword

arguments and compile-time checking of arguments and dummy arguments.


Benefits:


(a) Could meet CODASYL database interface requirements.


(b) Improved consistency and safety of programs by ensuring agreement of

    arguments and dummy arguments.


(c) User defined checking can be done at compile~time further improving

    of programs (e.g. the CODASYL database interface requires the

    checking of (some) arguments against external "schema" information).


(d) Default argument values.


(e) Variable length argument lists, possibly.


3. Extended PARAMETER and Compile-time intrinsics. These would enable processor

parameterisation as well as pre-calculation of constant expressions.


Benefits:


(a) Precision definition at compile-time and other processor parameters -

leading to improved portability and safety.


4. Performance and Trade off controls. This is a list of features that could

be supplied by general purpose macro facilities, some of which have been

supplied in the past as independent software tools and preprocessors.


Benefits:


(a) Macro/Subroutine interchangeability. The benefits derive from removal

    of the subroutine CALL and "constant conditionals" overheads (to

    improve performance) (Ref. University of Colorado BIGMAC II - where

    the application of this technique to a program called DAVE resulted in

    50% savings in execution time.


(b) The conditional removal of macro code where 'constant' macro arguments

    are supplied could reduce program size and the load size of programs.


Medium Priority compile-time features


l. User extended/defined control structures. These permit the user to create

new "control" statements in language (e.g. the user might want a "Zahn"

control structure, which is not currently part of Fortran). User extended

control structures are not vital to the language - most users can make do

with the existing standard-provided control structures and those of Fortran

8X should be adequate.


2. User extended/defined_data structures. The new Fortran 8X may provide this

facility in standard Fortran - macros would only help in the F66 and F77

case where data structures might be "modelled" by macros using COMMON

statements etc.


3. Processor Directives. There is uncertainty as to whether these should be

   within the scope of macros - or whether they should be provided by some

   other mechanism. X3J3 is currently considering the USING statement.


4. Acting as a preprocessor. Much preprocessing is done these days by special

   purpose preprocessors. The macro facility could provide equivalent features

   in perhaps a more standard way.


5. Alias names - short forms. If the length of variable names is extended to

30 or more characters, the repeated use of long names is tedious and error

prone. A macro definition or substitution by a short form name could be

an effective way of reducing the typing need.


Low Priority compile-time features


1. Extended syntax The scribe notes of meeting 71 indicate that

the ability to extend the syntax of the Fortran language in an

arbitrary way is too powerful a facility to give users and would

lead to the language becoming obscure and/or unrecognisable -

this would not help portability or many of the other objectives

of the committee.


2. Text editors These are somewhat similar to preprocessors and it

is not certain whether macro facilities will help text editors

much.


ALAN CLARKE