Chairman's Report for 2005-2006

As in previous years I consider that a major role for the Fortran SG has been to support UK participation in the international Fortran standardization process. Following the release of ISO/IEC 1539-1:2004 (Fortran 2003) in late 2004 there was a major effort made to collect requirements for the next revision of the language, known informally as Fortran 2008, which was described at last year's AGM.

This year has seen the refinement of the requirements as John Reid and David Muxworthy will describe later today. Once again the UK participation has been led by John and David and I should like to take this opportunity to formally thank them along with all other members of the Group who have been involved on behalf of the UK Fortran user community.

In March this year David alerted the Committee to a negative letter on Fortran which appeared in the Guardian Technology section on 16th March, at the bottom of the page. The Technology section runs a syndicated weekly US cartoon strip on IT. The previous week it was on Fortran and included some Fortran 90 fragments. The letter writer complained that the code was not Fortran, more like C. David contacted him and the Guardian, asking for a sentence or two of correction in the following week's section. The letter writer commented in correspondence with David that "Few people in science work with the Fortran 90/95 now due to the cost of the compilers". That remark prompted me to offer to speak on my limited experience with free and open source Fortran 95 compilers, which I will do following the AGM.

As a result of the correspondence in the Guardian I had an e-mail message at the end of March from a Fortran user in the 1960s and 70s asking "Is Fortran really still alive?". I was able to reassure him that Fortran is alive and well and give him links to up to date Fortran resources.

The day after the AGM I received another message from a member of the FSG with his apologies for the AGM and asking for information on Fortran compilers for PCs so that he "could have another bash" at Fortran after a long break. I was able to give him links to the resources I talked about in my presentation.

In addition to providing information my own efforts this year have been directed towards organising a meeting to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the release of the first Fortran compiler by IBM in early 1957 in collaboration with the Computer Conservation Society. I am pleased to report that the meeting, provisionally entitled "Fifty Years of Fortran", will be held here in the BCS London offices on Thursday 25th January 2007. A draft programme is available on the Group's website. The meeting is one of the future events down for discussion under item (ix) of today's agenda.

Despite my statement at the 2004 AGM that we would start charging a fee for membership of the Group to those who were not already members of the Society with effect from the start of the 2004 financial year this did not happen. As I described last year I was not happy with the consistency of the membership data provided to us in June 2004. I received another membership report from HQ in July 2005 and a further outline report earlier this month. Both these reports now seem to me to be in sufficient agreement with the 2004 data that I think we can use them for the basis of our discussions under item (vi) of today's agenda. Also we have to discuss the amount of subscription non-BCS members should pay. Since our original resolution that non-BCS members should be asked to pay £10 per year and become SG Affiliate members of the Society it is now being recommended that Specialist Groups charge non-BCS members £20 per year so that they become full Affiliate members of the Society.

I wish to thank all the members of the Committee for their assistance in the smooth running of the Group over the last year, especially Sam Ellis, who has been both Secretary and Treasurer for the past year.

As I said last year, if anyone reading this report has any comments or suggestions relating to the Group and its activities please let any member of the Committee know, we will be very happy to invite you to join us so you can help us put your ideas into effect!

Peter Crouch
4th June 2006
(revised 18th June 2006)

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