Fortran vs Python - Newbie Question

Beliavsky beliavsky at
Tue Mar 27 01:28:57 CEST 2007

On Mar 26, 9:06 am, stef <s.mien... at> wrote:

> As said by others, "Portability, scalability & RAD" as an advantage of
> Python are probably far more important.

All of those claimed advantages can be debated, although they may
exist for some tasks.

(1) Portability. Fortran has been run on hundreds if not thousands of
platforms since 1957. People who value portability often want
assurance that their code will be supported by compilers/interpreters
produced in the future. Standard-conforming Fortran 95 code is
conforming Fortran 2003 code, and the standards committee has decided
not to remove features in future versions. Python 3 is still somewhat
up in the air, and it will NOT be backward compatible with Python 2.x,
although migration tools will be provided.

(2) Scalability. If talking about parallel computing, the widely used
OpenMP Application Program Interface (API) supports multi-platform
shared-memory parallel programming only in C/C++ and Fortran. In
general, high performance computing is done in C, C++, and Fortran.

(3) RAD. Scripting programs WILL be faster to write in Python, because
of duck typing, the many built-in data structures, and other features.
For larger programs, a Fortran (or C++ or Java) compiler will catch
some errors at compile time that are caught only at run time in
Python, perhaps after considerable time has elapsed. Furthermore, the
higher speed of Fortran may mean that the time between program runs is
1 minute vs. 10 minutes in the corresponding Python program. This can
speed the development cycle.

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