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Heard about the software Fortran

  1. Sep 22, 2009 #1

    I just heard about the software Fortran but i know nothing about it. I heard it is better than Matlab when dealing with numerical methods.
    Is it easier to use than Matlab?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 22, 2009 #2


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    Re: Fortran

    FORTRAN is a programming language (like Java or Basic) - in fact the first programming language.
    It's been used for 50years for most maths and science projects because mathematicians and scientists were the main users of computers.
    It's certainly harder to use than a maths specific language like Matlab/Mathematica but has higher performance if you need to run huge tasks - like simulating a nuclear weapon or predicting the weather.
    Unless you end up working in a field like this on existing code you are likely to never need to learn Fortran today
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2009
  4. Sep 22, 2009 #3
    Re: Fortran

    ok, what about if i want to install it on my computer, do i have to buy it or is it free from the internet?
  5. Sep 22, 2009 #4


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    Re: Fortran

    There used to be several companies selling Fortran on PCs but I don't know if any are still around - it's more a workstation-supercomputer market.

    Gnu produce a free fortran compiler - http://gcc.gnu.org/wiki/GFortran
    The most common Fortran out there is from 1977 and is called fortran77, there have been a few updates the most recent major one in 1995 = fortran95 . fortran isn't used very much for new projects, if you are learning this to get a job most of the coe out there will be F77 so using the newer features isn't necessarily an advantage.
    It's a fairly simple language but doesn't have many of the new features of programming (classes, objects, templates etc) from somethign like Java, C++ or python. It's much more like Basic.
    Also don't expect much in the way of nice IDE or GUI resources, fortran is from the time of green screen terminals and teletype printers.
  6. Sep 22, 2009 #5


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    Re: Fortran

    I feel like mgb is fortran bashing here a little (haha). As mentioned, much of the fortran software that exists today is written in fortran77, which is not object-oriented, typically is written such tha variables are declared on the fly, and is just all-in-all hard as hell to read, modify, or use.

    However, with standards updates in 1990, 1995, 2003, and 2008, it is just as "nice" to use as C++, with full object oriented programming, etc etc. I personally work in the aerospace industry, and you not a see legacy code, or a new code being developed that is not written in FORTRAN.

    Aside from GFortran, G95 is also a very nice free open source compiler. You can get into workspace environments with things like VisualFortran, but expect to pay.
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