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Fortran Questions

  1. Feb 20, 2009 #1
    Alright I'm a first year physics student whose goal is to get a masters or PHD in atomic or particle physics. However I've been talking to a lot of physics grad students and the all mention using Fortran in their research. Now I've gone over my courses and the only programming class I'm required to take is an introductory class for C++.

    So my question's are where can I learn more about Fortran, Are there any self teaching guides to Fortran and how important is knowledge of Fortran in atomic/particle physics at the graduate Level.

    Oh and on an unrelated note, whats your opinion on open book multiple choice physics midterms/exams.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 20, 2009 #2


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    Fortran is a dinosaur programming language. The problem is that a lot of code was written using it and so even today it's difficult to escape. I think the key as far as undergrad education goes is to learn at least one language very well, which will give you a solid base for when you encounter something new. I don't know what's best for particle physics.

    As for exams, I've never really liked multiple choice exams - especially in physics. They force you to answer a problem with someone else's words, limiting you in your capacity to demonstrate what you know. As for the open book part, I have no issue with it.
  4. Feb 20, 2009 #3


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    Don't worry about it. Once you know C++ you will be able to learn Fortan (or any other language) quite easily (and if you know C++ you can quite easily read Fortan code and understand what is going on).
    Note that there are many versions of Fortan; many older scientist still use Fortan 77 which is a horrible -and outdated- language; so there isn't much point in learning it unless you are planing to use someone else's code or old libraries.
    More recent version of Fortan such as Fortan 95 are quite a bit better. There are also more specialized versions such as high-performance Fortran which is used on e.g. Parallel computers.
    Whether or not it is important really depends, what language people use tend to vary between fields, between different universities and sometimes even between different research groups at the same university.

    But again, don't worry about it. Just make sure you learn one language (it really doesn't matter which one) properly , you can then quite easily learn a new one whenever you need to.
  5. Feb 20, 2009 #4
    phew, for a minute I was worried there. Thanks for the responses guys, its much appreciated.
  6. Apr 2, 2009 #5
    Well, fortran is a dinosour language, but its very powerfull if you want to do High Performance computing ..and believe me fortran is a language completely based on scientific computing ..:)..and it doesnot matter what u start ....if u do fortran u can learn c++ easily....
  7. Apr 2, 2009 #6
    Whatever language you choose to learn, you should at least know about object oriented programming.
  8. Apr 2, 2009 #7
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