Minutes of the BCS Fortran Specialist Group Meeting

                 held at the Royal College of Midwives,

              15 Mansfield Street, London on 26 October 1989

Present:        Owen Brauley      Redbridge Council

                John Chelsom      NAG

                John Dyke         HRC

                Mike Geary        NAG

                Dave Griffiths    SSF

                Carol Hewlett     LSE

                Peter Holland     SSL

                Chris Lazou       ULCC

                Youngjo Lee       IC

                John Nelder       IC

                John Reid         Harwell

                Les Russell       AWE

                Tony Webster      University of Salford

                John Wilson       University of Leicester

                John Young        PE-MOD


        Apologies for absence were received from Miles Ellis, E

Golton, Mike Gunn, Valerie Harmer, David Muxworthy, Mike Nunn and

Laurie Schonfelder.

        The Vice-Chairman, Chris Lazou, opened the meeting in the

absence of the Chairman, John Wilson who arrived just after the

start. The meeting was being held next door to BCS HQ as the

rooms there had been double-booked. As this was the first time

a meeting had been held at this venue the various fire exits

were pointed out. It was announced that the morning session

would be Fortran business as usual and the afternoon meeting

would be two talks on Expert Systems.

        John Wilson apologised for his late arrival due entirely to

the persistent late running of his train. He suggested that as

in the foreseeable future the Fortran business of the Group would

decline future meetings start at 11.00 am with coffee and

biscuits from 10.30 am.

2.      MINUTES OF THE LAST MEETING [29 June 1989]

        Under Financial Matters it had been stated that there was

likely to be an increase in the handling of VAT. The meeting

felt that this statement was ambiguous and that it was the work-

load that was likely to increase, not the amount or the value of


        In Appendix A on page 3 of 3 in the seventh line BSC should

read BCS.


        The approval of an "honorarium" for a person, part time, to

look after the Group's VAT on a routine basis was postponed.

        The meeting again discussed the form of the Group's 20th

Birthday Celebrations. Chris Lazou was asked to invite a keynote

speaker so as to give enough notice. John Wilson and Miles Ellis

were asked to consider various possibilities and to report back

to the next meeting.

        The Secretary, John Young, had not received any summaries

of the talks on Fortran on PC's. He was asked to contact the

various speakers for further information.

        The dates of the future meetings of the Group were

confirmed. The January meeting on Parallel Processing would be

organised and introduced by Chris Lazou. The details of the

April Meeting which will be the AGM and the 20th Birthday

Celebrations will be discussed at the next meeting. John Young's

suggestion of Members' talks for the June meeting was accepted

and discussed. With the closure of BCS HQ in London from 1 July

1990 it was decided to approach the Rutherford and Appleton

Laboratory for approval for a visit to the Atlas Building.

4.      FORTRAN FORUM 89

        The Chairman, John Wilson, reported to the meeting on the

recent Forum held in London and in Edinburgh. Attendance at both

venues was poor, in particular, at Edinburgh. It was felt that

the lack of publicity was a major factor but this was partly due

to the short notice of the public review period for the Fortran

8x draft. All members of the Group received adequate notice and

John Reid's personal note of the Vienna meeting also contained

details. Only Computer Weekly published the dates of the Forum

(but not the times) and there was a paragraph about it.

Regrettably, Computing did not even manage to publicise the event

in its Diary. There were other problems in Scotland in

publicising the Edinburgh Forum which contributed further to the

low turn-out.

        The Forum went well with generally favourable comments. The

structure of the meeting was an overview of the new features

followed by the presentation of specific items and completed by

a general discussion. At the end of the Forum a series of straw

votes was taken. Of those present a large majority were in


        David Muxworthy, as Chairman and convenor of the BSI Fortran

Panel, appealed for written comments. He also announced the

closing dates of the public review period for the Draft standard

as follows:-        X3J3      24 November 1989

                    BSI       15 December 1989

                    ISO        1 February 1990

The BSI Fortran Panel is due to meet on the 3 January 1990 to

decide the British response to the Standard. Last time the Panel

voted NO and gave its reasons. This time the response will be

YES with or without comments.

        It was then stressed, that copies of the Draft Fortran

standard were still available from BCS HQ as issue of the

document was not linked to the Forum 89 as had been the case for

Forum 87.


        X3J3 Representative John Reid reported on the meeting in

Vienna by reviewing Appendix A of the last Minutes. The meeting

was relaxed and consisted mainly of editorial corrections. He

reported that there was still work needed on S8. There had been

some discussion on character sets which may be non-portable and

possibly not be included in the Standard.

        WG5 Representative John Wilson reported on the meeting at

Ispra again by reviewing Appendix A of the last Minutes. The

meeting was also relaxed with only formal meetings. WG5 had

requested that X3J3 limit the changes made to S8 and not to

impede the progress of the standard. Time was spent on

discussing character sets and it was decided that no special

characters would be allowed in variables. The future of the link

between WG5 and X3J3 was also discussed.

        John Reid had just returned from an X3J3 meeting at Estes

Park in Colorado and reported to the meeting (see Appendix A of

these minutes). This meeting was an extra, ad hoc meeting and

not a formal meeting. This had been postponed until January and

the February meeting had been cancelled. Hence, the meeting was

attended by only about half the X3J3 membership and they were not

able to pass any motions. However, a good working week was

achieved on the draft standard.

        The big item of news was the acceptance by X3 (the parent

body of X3J3) of a proposal to retain Fortran 77 as a separate

ANSI standard. This meeting was during the same week as the

X3J3 meeting and, in spite of 3 suggestions for compromise from

X3J3 members, X3 determined not to discuss the proposal and

"bulldozed" the item through. This was a complete reversal of

an X3 decision taken a year ago. It was just possible that SC22

(the parent body of WG5) could make the same decision but was

thought unlikely. The X3 decision means that Fortran 8x will

have a new standards number. It is now possible to institute a

program of work to propose extensions to F77 which will not be

compatible with 8x. In reality, ANSI will have two separate

standards for Fortran.

        John Reid felt that the US had taken this decision because

contracts from the DOD required a standardised language. Fortran

8x would not be standard for some time but F77 had been renewed

in the interim. The meeting asked whether it should make a

statement about this situation but it was felt that it was not

appropriate as it was an American problem. The only appropriate

bodies for the Group to make a statement to were BSI and X3J3.

The Vice-Chairman, Chris Lazou, pointed out that the Forum 89 has

unanimously voted for one standard and suggested that the Group

should go on record as supporting only one standard.

        Then there was an appeal to individual members of the Group

to submit comments on the draft Fortran 8x standard.

        John Reid then returned to the report of Estes Park meeting

and covered the following technical points. There appeared to

be a problem with copy-in and copy-out arguments which were

Pointers and Targets. The letter ballot on the draft standard

to X3J3 members would be formally passed by January. X3J3

members Jeanne Martin and Laurie Schonfelder had re-written the

rules of Structures and Commons. COMMON now allowed a mixture

of Data Types provided that all variables matched exactly.

Equivalences would also be allowed in this case.

        There then followed a discussion on Pointers.


        Closure of BCS HQ

        The Chairman, John Wilson, reported to the meeting that the

British Computer Society is to move its headquarters to new

premises in Swindon in June 1990. The lease on 13 Mansfield

Street expires on 30 June 1990. It is proposed that a new

meetings room will be retained somewhere in Central London and

will be available from 1 September 1990. Hence no room bookings

can be taken for July and August 1990. There would be meetings

rooms in the new HQ in Swindon.

        Specialist Group Management Committee

The following new Specialist Groups were approved:

Computer Conservation Society (in conjunction with the

Science Museum)

Software Testing Group

FOCUS - an Affiliated Group run by the Federation of Army


The Software Engineering Specialist Group which was "laid

down" in the summer has been "resurrected".

        Technical Committee

        This committee has been re-vamped with restricted membership

which does not include Fortran.

        Mailing Lists

        The use of the Group's mailing list by commercial

organisations can only be made with the approval of the Chairman.


        Press statements made by members of the Group which might

be interpreted as being on behalf of the Society will need BCS



        John Reid proposed the following resolution which was

carried unanimously.

        "This Group unanimously abhors the X3 decision to have two

        ANSI Fortran standards and urges BSI to oppose any

        corresponding ISO proposal".


        The Group unanimously endorsed the following votes taken at

Fortran Forum 89.

        (i)        Press for early ratification of Fortran 8x.

       (ii)        Want one world-wide standard.

      (iii)        Reject Fortran 77 as a separate standard.


        The next meeting of the Group will be held on Thursday, 25

January, 1990 at BCS HQ with the afternoon session on Parallel


John Young, Secretary

12 January 1990

                               Appendix A

To:          Fortran Forum, BCS, NAG, etc.

From:        John Reid

Date:        25th October 1989

Subject:     X3J3 meeting in Estes Park

Note: This is a personal note on the meeting and in no sense does it

constitute an official record of it.

The November meeting of X3J3 has been postponed to January so that

the comments from the public on the second draft standard will be

available. The Estes Park meeting was called to work on the editorial

state of the document and fix holes and inconsistencies, on the

. assumption that the January meeting will be dominated by processing

comments from the public. It was an 'ad hoc' meeting that passed no

formal motions. The several hundred changes that were agreed will be

submitted to the full membership in a letter ballot.

I raised a problem that my colleague Philip Sweetenham noticed in

connection with procedure arguments having the attribute TARGET. Since

the Standard has always been phrased to allow implementations to

perform copy-in copy-out of arguments, a pointer that is associated on

entry with a target actual argument need not be associated with the

corresponding dummy argument and a pointer that is associated with the

dummy argument on return need not be associated with the actual

argument. This situation was appreciated and my wording accepted. I

was asked to add an example showing that if it is required to preserve

the associations on entry and return, the target should be replaced by

a pointer to it.

I participated in a significant clean-up of the description of storage

association, structures in COMMON and EQUIVALENCE, and pointers in

COMMON. We decided that in addition to numeric and character storage

units, there should be a different 'unspecified' storage unit for

nonpointers of each combination of type and type parameters not

present in Fortran 77 and for pointers of each combination of type,

type parameters, and rank. Common blocks are permitted to contain

mixtures of kinds of storage units, provided the sequences of kinds

match exactly in each case. Equivalences are allowed when the kinds


A clarification of the rules for generic procedures was

accepted. No renaming of generic procedures will ever occur and two

interface blocks bearing the same name will be treated as one. This

will allow, for example, a module containing a definition of SIN for

interval arithmetic to be used at the same time as a module containing

a definition of SIN for very long precision.

A problem connected with optimization in the presence of pointers was

identified, but no solution adopted because it appears to need a

technical change to the standard. It is illustrated by the sequence of


                                T = 1.

                                P = 2.

                                Z = T

where T is a target and P is a pointer. If it is known that P is never

associated with T, the value of T can be retained in a register for

the assignment to Z. We considered some kind of OVERLAP statement to

allow the programmer to specify overlap and non-overlap sets.

During the same week, there was a meeting of the parent committee X3,

which considered the proposal to retain the ANSI Fortran 77 standard

and change the Fortran 8x program of work to the production of a

separate standard. X3J3 was not consulted and a letter ballot showed

that more than 2/3 of the members disapproved. Jerry Wagener attended

the meeting on behalf of the Chairman. The proposal had been approved

by a comfortable majority in an X3 letter ballot and X3 agreed to

reconsider the matter with great reluctance. Jerry made a

presentation, but the discussion was truncated by a vote to 'call the

motion' and it passed comfortably. I see this as an insult to X3J3 and

the international community. The unwillingness to debate the issue

adequately and seek an alternative solution that would have wider

acceptance (Jerry went with several suggestions) strikes me as

thoroughly unprofessional. It was only a year ago that X3 gave a

directive to X3J3 that 'the US support a single Fortran standard

(domestic/international, i.e. one document)'.