Minutes of the Meeting of the BCS Fortran Specialist Group
held at BCS, 13 Mansfield Street, London on 28 November 1991
Present: Mike Bennett National Power
Miles Ellis Oxford University
E Golton RAL
Carol Hewlett LSE
Chris Lazou University of London
David Muxworthy University of Edinburgh
Mike Nunn CCTA
M J Roth AEA Technology
Ravi Sikka Ove Arup & Partners
Tony Webster Salford Software
John Young PE-MOD
1. BUFFET LUNCH
The afternoon meeting of the Group was preceded by a Buffet
Lunch organised by Mike Nunn. Copies of several books on Fortran
90 were on display as participants marked the completion of the
work on the current standard Fortran 90. It was agreed that a
contribution of £4 a head would cover the majority of the costs.
Mike Nunn was thanked for taking time to organise the lunch which
was enjoyed by all present.
2. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
Apologies for absence were received from Ray Crawford, John
Reid, Lawrie Schonfelder and John Wilson.
3. MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS MEETING
The minutes of the meeting of 16 May 1991 were still not
available. In the minutes of the 5 September 1991 the last
sentence at the end of the first paragraph on page 2 starting
"Also the US cannot ..." should be deleted. It was also noted
that the time on the Notice and Agenda for this meeting should
have read 12.30pm.
4. MATTERS ARISING
The Secretary, John Young, had drafted a letter to the
editor of the Computer Journal Algorithms Supplement concerning
the last issue which contained Fortran programs. The letter was
read to the meeting and approved.
This extra item was included at the request of the
Treasurer, E Golton, who had received several letters concerning
the BCS finances. The effect on the Group's accounts was that
we were being charged at 70p a cheque and £2.50 a month. The BCS
has given an assurance that all charges will be refunded. The
allowance for the year 1991/92 had been set at £500 which was
reasonable for a group like ours but not so for the larger
specialist groups. The Treasurer felt that there was now a real
need to define what sums of money were coming into and going out
of our account. It was noted that the membership reminders for
1991/92 had not been sent out.
6. REPORT FROM X3J3 REPRESENTATIVE
Miles Ellis reported on the recent X3J3 meeting which he
described as pleasant and busy in California. The meeting had
finalised 40 interpretations of the new Fortran 90 Standard, some
of them trivial but most were quite difficult. It was
interesting to note that most of the requests had come from
In the Standard itself several errors had already been
noted. In one instance the arguments had been reversed which is
easy to correct. But in other instances what was said was not
what was meant to be said. One "grey area" was in the INTERFACE
block definition. These obscure cases tend to be found when
writing compilers. However, the international standard is a
legal document so problems cannot always be easily sorted out.
The X3J3 meeting had decided that the major part of its work
would be dealing with interpretations of the Fortran 90 Standard.
It was developing procedures to speed up the time taken to
produce interpretations and would also produce a standing
document. Currently the time taken was thought to be too long
but the matter was not quite resolved. The next meeting of X3J3
was in May 1992.
The view of X3J3 was that there should be a revision of the
standard in 3-4 years. This revision would contain nothing new
and no new functionality but would be a tidying up exercise.
This new standard would be in addition to the maintenance
releases. X3J3 hoped that WG5 would accept this suggestion of
a new standard. Meanwhile WG5 had asked X3J3 to do the
interpretations of the Fortran 90 Standard.
The US still thinks X3J3 should develop future Fortran with
X3J3 doing the technical development and WG5 deciding on the
content of the standard. There are 3 models for the future
development of Fortran: (a) all development done by WG5; (b) WG5
to determine various projects for a new standard; and (c) one
national body, ie X3J3, to be the technical committee with WG5
deciding the content of a new standard. After all, X3J3 has the
most expertise and previous standards were developed under ANSI
international standard rules.
The Chair of X3J3, Jeanne Adams, was resigning having done
the job since 1977. There would appear to be a contest for the
chair between 2 people.
The Fortran 90 Standard would be completing an ANSI ballot
soon with an expected 20-1 in favour (the 1 NO vote from Boeing)
with any re-ballot producing the same result. It had been
announced by a statement and a press release at the beginning of
the X3J3 meeting that the US DOD was not going to accept Fortran
90 but planned to stay with FORTRAN 77 as its standard. X3J3 did
not take the pronouncement too seriously and the DOD can be over-
ruled. It was also proposed that the suggestion be made that
Fortran 90 could be used as well as of ADA.
X3J3 expected that Fortran 90 compilers would become
available during the next year.
7. FORTRAN 90 QUESTIONNAIRE
The Chairman, Mike Roth, had sent out a Questionnaire to
groups and firms following approval at the last meeting. He had
received three replies and combined them into a statement to be
given to the computer press. This statement is given as an
Appendix. With only three replies perhaps the questionnaire
should be sent to other organisations.
8. A CONSTITUTION FOR THE GROUP
The Chairman, Mike Roth, proposed that the Group should
consider adopting its own constitution. At present, specialist
groups use the BCS Constitution by default if they do not have
a formal one. The meeting agreed to consider a draft document
which should highlight the key differences with the BCS
Constitution and also give the rationale for the proposal. Mike
was asked to produce a draft constitution for the next meeting.
9. ANY OTHER BUSINESS
Dates of Meetings
The dates of meetings in 1992 were proposed as follows:
6 February 1992 'Data Structures in Fortran 90'
14 May 1992 AGM
3 September 1992 Visit to Blacknest Data Analysis Centre
'Using Fortran in Seismology'
26 November 1992
The venue for meetings in London is still uncertain.
Problems at the BCS
The meeting discussed several letters from the BCS which
highlighted the financial problems currently being experienced '
by the BCS. The meeting felt that as the Group was small the
effects would be relatively minor.
Salford Software Marketing Ltd Mailing
The Secretary, John Young, reported that the BCS had failed
to carry out the Group's instructions over the mailing of the
Salford Software items. John had written to the BCS but had yet
to receive a satisfactory reply.
10. DISCUSSIONS ON FORTRAN 90
There followed an informal discussion on Fortran 90.
17 February 1992