[Numpy-discussion] Fortran was dead ... [was Re: rewriting NumPy code in C or C++ or similar]

Sebastian Haase seb.haase at gmail.com
Mon Mar 14 18:02:32 EDT 2011

On Mon, Mar 14, 2011 at 9:24 PM, Ondrej Certik <ondrej at certik.cz> wrote:
> Hi Sturla,
> On Tue, Mar 8, 2011 at 6:25 AM, Sturla Molden <sturla at molden.no> wrote:
>> Den 08.03.2011 05:05, skrev Dan Halbert:
>>> Thanks, that's a good suggestion. I have not written Fortran since 1971,
>>> but it's come a long way. I was a little worried about the row-major vs
>>> column-major issue, but perhaps that can be handled just by remembering
>>> to reverse the subscript order between C and Fortran.
>> In practice this is not a problem. Most numerical libraries for C assume
>> Fortran-ordering, even OpenGL assumes Fortran-ordering. People program
>> MEX files for Matlab in C all the time. Fortran-ordering is assumed in
>> MEX files too.
>> In ANSI C, array bounds must be known at compile time, so a Fortran
>> routine with the interface
>>     subroutine foobar( lda, A )
>>         integer lda
>>         double precision A(lda,*)
>>     end subroutine
>> will usually be written like
>>     void foobar( int lda, double A[]);
>> in C, ignoring different calling convention for lda.
>> Now we would index A(row,col) in Fortran and A[row + col*lda] in C. Is
>> that too difficult to remember?
>> In ANSI C the issue actually only arises with small "array of arrays"
>> having static shape, or convoluted contructs like "pointer to an array
>> of pointers to arrays". Just avoid those and stay with 1D arrays in C --
>> do the 1D to 2D mapping in you mind.
>> In C99 arrays are allowed to have dynamic size, which mean we can do
>>    void foobar( int lda, double *pA )
>>    {
>>       typedef double row_t [lda];
>>       vector_t *A = (vector_t*)((void*)&pA[0]);
>> Here we must index A[k][i] to match A(i,k) in Fortran. I still have not
>> seen anyone use C99 like this, so I think it is merely theoretical.
>> Chances are if you know how to do this with C99, you also know how to
>> get the subscripts right. If you are afraid to forget "to reverse the
>> subscript order between C and Fortran", it just tells me you don't
>> really know what you are doing when using C, and should probably use
>> something else.
>> Why not Cython? It has "native support" for NumPy arrays.
>> Personally I prefer Fortran 95, but that is merely a matter of taste.
> +1 to all that you wrote about Fortran. I am pretty much switching to
> it from C/C++ for all my numerical work, and then I use Cython to call
> it from Python, as well as cmake for the build system.
> Ondrej

this is quite amazing...
Sturla has been writing so much about Fortran recently, and Ondrej now
says he has done the move from C/C++ to Fortran -- I thought Fortran
was dead ... !?   ;-)
What am I missing here ?
Apparently (from what I was able to read-up so far) there is a BIG
difference between FORTRAN 77 and F95.
But isn't gcc or gfortran still only supporting F77 ?
How about IntelCC's Fortran ?  Is that superior?
Do you guys have any info / blogs / docs where one could get an
up-to-date picture?
1. How about debugging - does gdb work or is there somthing better ?
2. How is the move of the F77 community to F95 in general ?   How many
people / projects are switching.
3. Or is the move rather going like Fortran 77 -> C -> Python ->
Fortran 95   !?  ;-)

Sebastian Haase

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