Minutes of the Meeting of the BCS Fortran

           Specialist Group held at the Blacknest Data Analysis Centre,

              Brimpton, Near Reading, Berkshire on 3 September 1992


Present:        Tim Bartle        Salford Software

                Miles Ellis       Oxford University

                E Golton          RAL

                Mike Gunn         Surrey University

                Gary Halsall      NAG

                Peter Holland     SSL

                Chris Lazou       HiPerCom-Consultants

                Mike Nunn         CCTA

                Jonathon Wheeler  RAL

                John Wilson       Leicester University

                John Young        PE-MOD


1        WELCOME


        The Chairman, Chris Lazou, welcomed everyone to the meeting

held in the Library at Blacknest. The Vice-Chairman, John Young,

also welcomed everyone and gave the notices. Gary Halsall,

attending for the first time, suggested members introduced

themselves which duly took place.


2        APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE


        Apologies for absence were received from Mike Geary, Les

Russell and Dave Vallance.


3        MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF 14.5.92


        The minutes of the meeting of 14 May 1992 were approved.

One correction was made under item 5 Matters Arising in that Jim

Bartle should be Tim.


        The Secretary, John Young, offered profuse apologies to

those people at NAG Ltd, Robert Iles and Gary Halsall, for a

complete mix-up of names in the notice of this meeting sent with

the minutes.


4        MATTERS ARISING


        It was thought that the cost of a copy of the ISO Fortran

90 Standard from the BSI was closer to £160 rather than £80.


        In the US, there had been a procedural hold-up in the ANSI

Fortran 90 Standard. It was thought that the announcement would

be made during the recent X3J3 meeting but it was not. The

announcement could still be in a month or two.


        Three members had "manned the stall" for the Group at the

Software Development 92 Show at Wembley. The Group thanked Chris

Lazou, John Young and Tim Bartle for their time. It was noted

that BCS was not "visible" in the User Group Lounge or at the

Show.


5        DATES OF FUTURE MEETINGS


        It was agreed that the next meeting would be 26 November

1992 at IBM Southbank but not necessarily with speakers from IBM.


        The first meeting of 1993 was confirmed as 25 February 1993

and the Group would arrange to meet in the BCS London venue in

7 Mansfield Mews.


        After some discussion of dates of X3J3 and other meetings

it was agreed to delay the AGM by one week from 13 May 1993 to

20 May 1993. No venue for this meeting has been arranged.


6        MEMBERSHIP LIST


        The Treasurer, E Golton, is now Membership Secretary and

reported that the Group had 2 new members. The current

Membership List is woefully out of date and Ted was asked to

contact BCS HQ to organise updating. If this task had not yet

been started the Group needed to know a completion date.


7        REPORT ON WG5 MEETING


        The report on the WG5 meeting in Victoria, BC, was presented

by Miles Ellis and is included as Appendix A. The Standing

Document 4 was re-written by the meeting. A revision of the

current standard Fortran 90 should be produced in about 5 years.

There was also a call for suggestions for new Fortran (or

possible extensions) from participating countries.


8        REPORT ON X3J3 MEETING


        The X3J3 Representative, Miles Ellis, then reported on the

X3J3 meeting in Seattle, WA. Appendix A also includes this

report. There was a general consensus accepting the Standing

Document 4 but neither ANSI or X3 had yet agreed but probably

would. The major item of work was the continuing processing of

"interpretations" of the Fortran 90 Standard. There was also an

upsurge in extensions to Fortran in bindings, etc.


9        FUTURE DIRECTION OF THE GROUP


        Miles Ellis presented a discussion paper on the future of

the BCS Fortran Specialist Group (included as Appendix B). Miles

led the discussion by pointing out that item 2 was the strategy,

item 3 was the mechanics, and item 4 was a proposal for a new

publication. On item 2 in point two the phrase "the main" was

to be changed to "a main" and the items on the BSI Panel were to

be merged. The meeting discussed the paper and included the

following suggestions; (a) Applications of Fortran and (b) Look

at times/venues of meetings as a whole. It was agreed that the

discussion paper was a worthwhile "wish-list" and should be

presented to members of the Group as a whole. Miles' conclusions

were endorsed by the meeting.


10      BCS AND ANY OTHER BUSINESS


        UNICOM Seminars


        UNICOM Seminars asked the Group for separate mailing to

members to promote its forthcoming Seminar "Fortran and C in

Scientific Computing" with the Group's Chairman, Chris Lazou, as

the Seminar Leader. After some discussion, it was agreed that

as the Group were co-sponsoring the Seminar this mailing would

be done at cost by the BCS. Chris agreed to provide an

appropriate covering letter.


        Treasurer's Report


        The Treasurer, E Golton, presented a brief financial report.

The Group's allowance for this year was £500 and apparently last

year's shortfall had been written off by the BCS.


        Gift in Appreciation


        The Vice-Chairman, John Young, suggested that the Group

donate a small gift to the Blacknest Secretary, June Bojie, who

had typed all the Group's Minutes over the past four years. The

meeting authorised the sum of £10 to be used as John thought fit.


11      THE BLACKNEST DATA ANALYSIS CENTRE


        The Centre's Leader, Professor Alan Douglas, was thanked by

the Chairman, Chris Lazou, for inviting the Group to Blacknest.

He also thanked the retiring Secretary, John Young, for his

contribution to the Group. Professor Douglas then talked about

the work at Blacknest before introducing Peter Marshall, OBE, who

gave a brief history of Blacknest with particular reference to

the work with the UN Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.

Peter's review was followed by a talk given by Hilary Trodd on

the current work at Geneva. Finally, John Young gave a brief

review of his work for the Group over the last 30 years.


12        THE NAG FORTRAN 90 COMPILER


        Gary Halsall gave a brief talk on the NAG Fortran 90

Compiler and afterwards demonstrated the compiler working on the

Blacknest VAX Computer.


13        TOUR OF BLACKNEST


        The meeting concluded with an optional tour of the Blacknest

facilities.



John Young, Acting Secretary

27 October 1992



                              Appendix A


                        Report on recent WG5 and X3J3 activities


WG5 and X3J3 held back-to-back meetings in the Pacific North-West during late July

and early August.


The WG5 meeting in Victoria, BC, was held first, from 27th to 31st July, and was

attended by 32 members, of whom 17, including the Convenor, came from the United

States; the UK, with 6 members (David Muxworthy, Malcolm Cohen, Miles Ellis,

John Reid, Mike Roth and Lawrie Schonfelder), was the next largest delegation, and

other delegations represented Canada, the host, Japan and Germany, with two

members (Aurelio Pollicini and Dick Hendrickson) having no formal national

accreditation.


The meeting concentrated on two main issues - "interpretations" of the 1991 Standard

and procedures for the future development of Fortran. In accordance with ISO

Directives, and with normal practice, the decisions of the meeting are recorded in the

form of Resolutions, a copy of which is appended to this report. A key document,

referred to in Resolution V6, is the Strategic Plan for Fortran Standardization (WG5

Standing Document 4), which is also appended to this report.


There was a considerable debate over the choice of a Primary Development Body for

the next revision, and indeed over the relationship between that body and any other

development bodies. In the end it was agreed that X3J3 should be asked to become

the primary development body as long as the work was carried out as an X3 I-Project and

that the relevant I-Project was established by june 30th next year (see Resolution V9). This

decision was endorsed by the SC22 Plenary Meeting in Tampere, Finland, last week,

which asked the US member body to take all necessary steps to ensure that the

appropriate I-Project was so established.


The X3J3 meeting (122), the following week, was held in Seattle, WA. It spent a

significant amount of time discussing the Strategic Plan approved the previous week

by WG5 and an attempt was made to demand a much higher degree of autonomy

from WG5 than WG5 had indicated that it was willing to allow. In the end, the

proposal (initiated from the chair) was voted down by a substantial majority.


The major item on X3J3's agenda was the continuing processing of "interpretations"

and it is clear that, both procedurally and administratively, the present procedures

need streamlining if the committee is not to drown under the weight of this work.


The other important issue concerned relationships with other bodies who are

proposing to develop bindings and/or extensions to Fortran. Specific examples

which were discussed are POSIX, X3H5 (Parallel Computing) and HPFF (High

Performance Fortran Forum).


Miles Ellis

2 September 1992



The FSG minutes here incorporated the WG5 Resolutions, which are available at
ftp://ftp.nag.co.uk/sc22wg5/N001-N1100/N814.pdf.



                                            ISO/IEC JTC1/SC22/WG5 - N820a

                    Strategic Plan for Fortran Standardization

                              (WG5 Standing Document 4)

1.     Mission (the goal to achieve)

The mission is to be responsive to changing technology and user needs by
establishing procedures whereby a revision of the international Fortran
standard is produced about every five years. Each of these revisions, during
its lifetime, will be recognized and accepted worldwide as the single
international Fortran standard.

The standard will be developed and maintained by a broad and balanced
international group of users, vendors, and academics, collectively providing
appropriate expertise.

2.     Vision (the desired effect of achieving the goal)

The international scientific and engineering community will be provided with
a single worldwide Fortran standard that will improve software and programmer
portability and promote software reusability and compatibility.

3. Strategies (what specific functions will achieve the goal)

3.1. Two major functions
There are two major functions: (1) identification of needs and specification
of standard requirements and (2) development of standard document content and
maintenance of the current standard. Other activities include scheduling,
performing liaison and review activities, and conducting ad hoc studies. The
requirements and development functions should be separate but highly
coordinated.

3.2. Requirements as the "what" function.
The result of requirements specification is a document that prescribes the
functional requirements for a revision of the language standard and related
standards. Draft documents (standards, amendments, corrigenda, technical
reports, etc.) will be submitted to ISO for adoption.

WG5, on a continuing basis, determines, records, distributes, and maintains
the needs and suggested requirements for Fortran. To begin a new revision
WG5, using the recorded needs and suggested requirements, establishes
objectives and corresponding functional requirements, specifications, and
schedule for that revision.

3.3. Development as the "how" function
The development function develops the international standard revisions,
corrigenda, amendments, and related auxiliary standards, in accordance with
the specified requirements and schedule.

A development body will be chosen to produce each revision and auxiliary
standard. The development body for a revision of the Fortran standard is the
primary development body. It is the responsibility of each development body
to determine how the requirements are to be met and to prepare the
corresponding draft document. Revisions of the Fortran standard will
incorporate approved corrections and clarifications as well as fully
implemented requirements.

Maintenance of a standard involves correcting errors that are discovered in
the standard and providing official interpretations for those parts of the
standard that are found to be unclear or incompletely specified.
Corrigenda that incorporate corrections, clarifications and interpretations
resulting from this maintenance activity will be produced periodically.

3.4. Scheduling.
The basic five-year schedule for revisions is predetermined. NG5 will
negotiate with the primary development body a detailed schedule consistent
with this five-year cycle. For other development work WG5 will negotiate an
appropriate schedule with the corresponding development body. Activities
involving maintenance of the current standard will take place concurrently
with the development activities.

Since the schedule must be reported to JTC1, the schedule will be phrased in
ISO terms. The relevant ISO stages for ongoing projects are:

          2     preparatory
          3     committee CD ballot (SC22)
          4     approval DIS ballot (JTCl)
          5     publication

          [See, for example, WG5 Standing Document 3 (WG5-N643)]

3.5. Auxiliary standards.
Some needs may be met most effectively by auxiliary standards rather than with
revision of the Fortran standard. An auxiliary standard is related to the
Fortran standard in some significant way; for example, some functionality may
be made available by "binding" that functionality to Fortran. There are two
forms of auxiliary standards: supplementary standards and extension standards.

Extension standards involve syntax/semantics beyond that of the current
Fortran standard. Because of the serious potential for incompatibilities
arising from uncoordinated extension activities, WG5 requests that all bodies
developing extension standards coordinate their work closely with the primary
development body and that primary development body approval be obtained before
a proposed extension standard is adopted.

Supplementary standards are auxiliary standards other than extension
standards. Common forms of supplementary standards likely will be standard
Fortran code using the module/use and procedure library mechanisms. In order
to minimize conflicts and incompatibilities, WG5 requests that the primary
development body review all proposed supplementary standards and provide WG5
with the results of those reviews.

3.6. Liaison and review activities.
It is the responsibility of WG5 and the development bodies to establish
liaison or contact with and review the work of other organizations whose work
items relate to the Fortran standards effort. Such organizations include:

     SC22/WGl1 and X3T2   (CLIA, CLID, CLIP)
     SC22/W615 and IEBE P1003.9 (POSIX Fortran Bindings)
     SC22/WG20 (Internationalization)
     X3H5 and HPFF (Parallel Processing)

3.7. Conducting ad hoc studies.
It is the responsibility of WG5 to determine whether studies are needed to aid
the need identification and requirements specification processes. WG5 may
carry out such ad hoc studies or may request one or more participating member
bodies to carry out such studies.
4. Tactics (how to achieve the strategic objectives)

4.1. Principal responsibilities of W65.
WG5 may establish a management committee to make recommendations and interim
decisions when it is impractical to involve the entire membership. The
membership of the management committee would be reestablished at each meeting
and be in effect until the following meeting.
W65 will:
     (a) maintain a set of needs and suggested requirements

     (b) define revision objectives and select the corresponding functional
         requirements for development after comprehensive review

     (c) determine whether a given requirement can best be met by a revision
         of the Fortran standard or by an auxiliary standard (see N776)

     (d) choose the development bodies and delegate all development and draft
         document preparation to them

     (e) monitor development (where progress is not consistent with the
         schedule, WG5 will, together with the development body, determine
         if corrective action can be taken by the development body; if this
         is not possible it will be necessary for WG5 to reassign some or
         all items to another development body, or to delete some items
         from the specification, or to revise the schedule)

     (f) monitor maintenance activities

     (g) determine whether a final draft document is adequate and consistent
         with the specified requirements

     (h) submit draft documents to ISO

4.2. Principal responsibilities of the development bodies.
A development body will:
     (a) appoint a project editor

     (b) produce a draft document to meet the agreed schedule and
         specified requirements

     (c) establish a document production system that will allow the most
         recent electronic version of any proposed standard to be available
         to all members of WG5 and the development body

     (d) coordinate with other organizations, as may be appropriate

4.3. The schedule.
Following is a proposed schedule for the next two revisions:

     phase                     first revision             second revision
     preparatory    2.1                11-91                     7-92
     initial requirements specified     ----                     7-94
     requirements review complete       ----                     5-95
     requirements specified completely  7-94                     9-95
     working draft  2.8                 4-95                    12-98

     CD ballot      3.0                 6-95                     1-99
                    3.1                 6-95                     1-99
                    3.2                 9-95                     4-99
                    3.8                11-95                     9-99

     DIS ballot     4.0                12-95                    10-99
                    4.1                12-95                    10-99
                    4.2                 7-96                     5-00
                    4.4                 9-96                     7-00
                    4.8                 9-96                     7-00

     publication    5.0                11-96                     8-00
                    5.3                12-96                    10-00

     

4.4. Fortran maintenance bodies.
WG5 will determine maintenance bodies for Fortran revision standards and
auxiliary standards. In general, the body that develops a standard will be
responsible for its maintenance. X3J3 has been delegated responsibility for
maintaining Fortran 90.

WG5 will conduct a letter ballot on items that the maintenance body identifies
as ready to be included in a given corrigendum. WG5 will forward the
resulting draft of approved items to SC22 for further processing.

4.5. Coordination between WG5 and development bodies.
Meeting schedules will be coordinated to make the best advantage of members'
resources as far as time and travel expenses are concerned and to accomplish
the goals established by the schedule.

There should be as much overlap as possible in the membership of WG5 and
development bodies, especially with the primary development body. This
provides informal communication and continuity.

Formal written reports and resolutions will be used to clarify communications
and maintain a record of communications. At each meeting a Responses and
Resolutions (R&R) report will be produced that is intended to be the official
communication and coordination vehicle between WG5 and the development bodies,
as appropriate. The R&R reports produced by WG5 will be sent to the
appropriate development body; the R&R reports produced by the development
body will be sent to WG5. The responses portion of each R&R report will
contain responses to resolutions received from the other bodies. The
resolutions part may contain any information for or requests of the other
bodies.


Annex A. Schedule Implications

For the next three years, the proposed schedule has the following
implications for each participating WG5 member body:

     before          - review the strategic plan
      1993           - review the maintenance activities of X3J3
     meeting         - prepare suggested requirements accompanied by
                       rationale and send to Convenor at least 6 weeks
                       before the meeting

       at            - adjust the strategic plan
      1993           - draft recommendations for Fortran 90 maintenance
     meeting         - review suggested requirements, create
                       repository of needs and suggested requirements

     before          - prepare informal list of requirements accompanied
       1994            by rationale and send to Convenor at least 6
     meeting           weeks before the meeting
                     - review ongoing maintenance activities

       at            - finalize requirements for revision
      1994           - draft recommendations for Fortran 90 maintenance
     meeting

     before          - review WD for revision
      1995
     meeting
     (spring)

       at            - approve WD of 1996 revision for CD registration
      1995
     meeting
     (spring)

     before          - prepare national responses to CD ballot
      1995           - prepare list of requirements and
     meeting           send to Convenor at least 6 weeks before meeting
     (autumn)

       at            - process results of CD ballot on revision
      1995             and approve edits to draft for DIS registration
     meeting         - finalize requirements for 2000 revision
     (autumn)

     before          - prepare national responses to DIS ballot
      1996           - review development activities
     meeting

       at            - process results of DIS ballot and approve edits
      1996             to draft for publication
     meeting         - monitor development of requirements

Appendix B


The Future of the BCS Fortran Specialist Group


A Discussion Paper


1.        Background


In recent years the main activity of the FSG has been monitoring the development of

Fortran 90 and coordinating reaction from the UK Fortran community. With the

publication of the ISO Fortran 90 Standard last year it is time for the Group to

reassess its role and establish new goals and/or activities. This paper does not

attempt to discuss any of the possible new directions in any detail; instead it is

intended to be more of an initial check-list of possible options for discussion by the

Group as a whole.


Section 2 of this paper lists some of the major objectives which the Group might

consider adopting in the future - the strategy.  Section 3 then lists some of the possible

ways in which these objectives might be attacked - the tactics. Finally, section 4

makes a proposal for one of the tactics detailed in section 3.


2.        Possible strategic objectives for the FSG



3.        Possible tactics for the FSG in order to achieve its objectives



4.        A Proposal for a Fortran Magazine


In the United States there are currently two newsletter/magazines devoted solely to

Fortran. Both are quite widely distributed and are available only by subscription.


The first of these, Fortran Forum, is published by the ACM (through SIGPLAN I

believe) and is edited by Loren Meissner at the University of California. There are

two or three issues each year at somewhat random intervals, although it is reported

that the ACM has demanded a more regular publication schedule in future.


The second, and more recent publication, Fortran Journal, is published every two

months by the Fortran Users Group and is edited by Walt Brainerd. It appears to be

funded entirely by subscriptions and advertising, although it is not clear whether the

Fortran Users Group has any role in life other than as the recipients of the Fortran

journal!


I believe that there is scope for a similar newsletter/magazine in this country, and I

would be interested in editing such a magazine. I propose the name Fortran Matters

for this publication which would be both a vehicle for publicising the activities of the

FSG and a means of generating more interest in, and information about, Fortran in

general.


I am sure that the advent of Fortran 90 provides the opportunity for Fortran to

recapture much of the ground that it has lost in recent years through being,

undeniably, old-fashioned and lacking in features. However it is a larger and more

sophisticated language than Fortran 77 and so could easily drown under its own

weight if it is not publicised properly. Even on the conservative western side of the

Atlantic, though, there are increasing noises about how much the programming

community has to gain from Fortran 90, and it has even been reported that a number

of U.S. Computer Science Professors are seriously considering moving to Fortran 90

as the initial language for Computing Science undergraduates!


If the Group wishes to pursue this idea I will bring a formal proposal to the next

meeting with costings and an indication of the likely subsidy required to establish the

magazine, together with, hopefully, an indication as to the possible sources of

financial support. There are two possible variations on the same theme:


        i)      Fortran Matters would be published by the BCS (or by the BCS FSG),

                which would therefore carry the ultimate financial responsibility;


        ii)      Fortran Matters would be published by an external organisation, in

                association with the BCS, with the external organisation carrying the

                ultimate financial responsibility; I have a possible publisher in mind.


In the latter case it is assumed that the BCS (or the BCS FSG) would provide some

form of financial subsidy, but its financial commitment would be strictly limited - as

would its editorial influence. In the present circumstances, however, I imagine that

the second option is the only realistic one.


5.        Conclusions


Unless some decisive action is taken soon the membership of the Group may dwindle

to the point where it would be pointless even to try to revive it. We need to take

action now, or accept that the era of the BCS Fortran Specialist Group is at an end.


Miles Ellis

2 September 1992