Pharyngula

Rich Hughes has a prosperous future ahead of him as an Intelligent Design Theorist.

(Now with new and improved image!)

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Who else sees this and shudders with the recollection of their training in FORTRAN?

Comments

  1. #1 Dayv
    May 16, 2006

    Is there a more clear version of this chart available?  This one looks like it’s been resized without much respect for the type.

  2. #2 PZ Myers
    May 16, 2006

    I struggled with that — the original looks like something that was done with an ancient dot-matrix printer. Maybe Rich can send me a clearer image?

  3. #3 Bronze Dog
    May 16, 2006

    Think I might try making my own version tonight or something.

  4. #4 Kagehi
    May 16, 2006

    You know.. The sad thing is, I wish I had some experience with Fortran.. It might help me figure out why the heck this:

    http://www.ngs.noaa.gov/PC_PROD/UTMS/

    Doesn’t work when I try to convert it to VB (Heh, its the one I have a compiler for). Of course the other question is why the heck they are still using a Fortran version of it anyway anymore, when there are millions of hand held GPS units around that can do it using something more sane, like C++ or even Java. Then again, I recently read some article some place where a programmer went back to see some researchers in various places to see what they where using to code and discovered that they had “never” heard of CVS systems, IDEs, etc. In fact, they tended to code using text editors, no version tracking, an absent mindedness that left code from ten version prior in the latest compile, because no one could find the most recent changes in some case and a general feeling that if these are the people developing the newest sciences, the only reason they haven’t caused a catastrophic planetary implosion is that they can’t get the code to run in the first place to cause it. lol

  5. #5 quork
    May 16, 2006

    I don’t see any connection to FORTRAN, which is quite good at FORmula TRANslation. Flowcharting outlines the process of an algorithm, it does not rely on the specific syntax of any particular programming language. You could use flowcharting with newer languages like C++ or Perl, and I know some people who should.

  6. #6 Dustin
    May 16, 2006

    If the DI wants me to accept intelligent design, they need to harness, in a way analogous to the way we can harness physics to build things, the powers of intellignet design to build me a God-powered Final Exam Grading Engine.

    Now that would be cool. Since I don’t have one, though… *picks up red pen again*

  7. #7 idlemind
    May 16, 2006

    However, Fortran would be more useful for spatial transformations if it had a quaternion type.

  8. #8 PaulC
    May 16, 2006

    ekzept:

    yeah, but if you do all your calculations in COMPLEX (whether it’s in FORTRAN or not), roundoff and similar creep gives purely real numbers gradually larger imaginary parts, even if these parts begin at zero. hence the continuing need for REAL.

    I think reals are nice to have around, for a variety of reasons, but it’s not obvious that they should be the default.

  9. #9 ulg
    May 16, 2006

    Folks, this is a science blog. There is nothing scientific about tiresome old discussions of the relative (de)merits of various programming languages or various algorithm diagraming conventions.

  10. #10 PaulC
    May 16, 2006

    Oh hooey. It’s no less scientific than debating the sex of a skeletal human octopus hybrid. Some would say it’s more tiresome, but that’s a matter of taste. Anyway PZ brought up Fortran.

  11. #11 Greco
    May 16, 2006

    IDists specialize in the purely imaginary.

    Imaginary problems, imaginary objections, imaginary conspiracies, imaginary slanders… Sure we can’t slam them for lack of imagination.

  12. #12 ekzept
    May 16, 2006

    Macsyma was originally written in Lisp, wasn’t it?

    yes, in Maclisp, same thing i wrote the program for my Master’s in. see the origins of LISP-based computer algebra.

    Folks, this is a science blog. There is nothing scientific about tiresome old discussions of the relative (de)merits of various programming languages or various algorithm diagraming conventions.

    putting Wolfram’s ideas aside for a moment (or forever AFAIC), most science is being heavily influenced by the availability of large scale and inexpensive computation, if not by ideas and models stolen from discussions and analyses of computation. where does science end and computation begin? what is the difference between mathematics and computation? there is one.

  13. #13 RavenT
    May 16, 2006

    ulg: Folks, this is a science blog.

    Cheezit, it’s the Science Police!

    ekzept: putting Wolfram’s ideas aside for a moment (or forever AFAIC), most science is being heavily influenced by the availability of large scale and inexpensive computation, if not by ideas and models stolen from discussions and analyses of computation. where does science end and computation begin?

    That’s precisely why I asked the question. Since my research is in modeling evolutionary concepts in my comparative anatomy system, goodness of fit between the reality and the modeling environment is always a concern. So Paul’s observation about the nature of different programming languages in relation to mathematical modeling is useful and interesting to my research, no matter whether or not the Science Police approve.

    PaulC: Depends on what you mean by analysis and by algebra. If you mean numerical analysis vs. symbolic algebra you might have a point (Macsyma was originally written in Lisp, wasn’t it?). But it’s a false dichotomy. S-expressions are good. Complex numbers are good. Both ought to be available at your fingertips in the same programming language.

    Yes, that was the distinction I was drawing, not intending to create a false dichotomy, but to clarify whether that was what you meant. Thanks!

  14. #14 G. Tingey
    May 17, 2006

    AAARRRRGGGGHH !!!!!

    I remember all this.

    I’ve still got ONE old FORTRAN Punch-Card here (for old times’ sake) – you know – or don’t you?
    80 characters per row, and 1 row per punch-card.
    The first computer I ever used (about 1972)was old then, and actually had real Core store.
    Total memory probably only about 20Kbytes …..
    And made by IBM.

    Were those the days?
    Probably not.

  15. #15 Keith Douglas
    May 17, 2006

    I escaped learning FORTRAN, though ML did screw with my head, so didn’t manage to escape all oddball languages.

    What I want is a hypercomputer and a suitable hyperprogramming language …

  16. #16 sockatume
    May 17, 2006

    Let’s see if we can do it in BASIC.

    10 $SCIENCE=0
    20 INPUT $SCIENCE
    30 IF $SCIENCE=$BELIEFS THEN GOTO 50
    40 GOTO 10
    50 PRINT “Proof of “;
    60 PRINT $BELIEFS
    70 GOTO 10

    Can someone debug that for me? I know I should’ve used GOSUB, but I was feeling lazy.

  17. #17 Torbjörn Larsson
    May 17, 2006

    “Part of the input will be routed back to the input, precisely as Rich has hypothesed above.

    It is of course nothing remarkable in that applying the new improved explanatory filter on the theory of ID itself yields the theory of ID.”

    Ouch! A little hasty there. I mean’t to write: “Part of the output will be routed back to the input, precisely as Rich has hypothesed above.

    This result is of course nothing remarkable, applying the new improved explanatory filter on the theory of ID itself should also yield the theory of ID.”

  18. #18 arensb
    May 17, 2006

    Everything I know about Fortran, I learned from reading the Fortran Coloring Book.

  19. #19 arensb
    May 17, 2006

    I don’t see any connection to FORTRAN, which is quite good at FORmula TRANslation. Flowcharting outlines the process of an algorithm, it does not rely on the specific syntax of any particular programming language.

    Strictly speaking, you’re right. However, the arrows in a flowchart readily map to GOTOs, and GOTOs are widely acknowledged as being harmful.

    I’m not saying that you couldn’t flowchart a structured, GOTO-less program, but it’d take more discipline, and the flowchart probably wouldn’t be as useful as, say, some prose notes.

    Something like a flowchart might be useful for mapping out the high-level behavior of a finite state machine, or a program where users can switch from screen to screen and mode to mode without rhyme or reason, but IMHO it’s no longer a useful tool for churning out actual lines of code.

  20. #20 Graculus
    May 17, 2006

    Strictly speaking, you’re right. However, the arrows in a flowchart readily map to GOTOs, and GOTOs are widely acknowledged as being harmful.

    Wha? Huh?

    No. GOTOs are branches, and you have to branch sometime.

    Where you lost marks was for “bare” branches, which was a sign of sloppy programming, and a prime cause of code bloat.

  21. #21 ulg
    May 18, 2006

    ekzept, RavenT, my earlier comment ‘Folks, this is a science blog …’ was intended to be humorous on the grounds that (a) unscientific discussions are nonetheless important for communities like science blogs (as PaulC immediately noted), and (b) I am not a scientist myself! (But nobody challenged me on the latter element, so I don’t get play a second round.) It’s also sour grapes resulting from many bad experiences in other forums involving discussions on the relative merits of various programming languages. Such discussions usually start out with several people making sincere efforts to help a novice choose between a bewildering variety of available tools. Then someone thoughtlessly insults the enormous amount of effort it takes to master a useful programming language that happens to have some attribute they don’t care for. Soon after, otherwise respectable students, computer scientists (including people whose peer-reviewed work was positively discussed in classes I took), and professional software developers all ended up acting like foul-mouthed schoolboys with web browsers to grind. I’m pleasantly surprised to find that my assumptions about how the discussion would evolve were wrong.

    I’d try to post some kind of positive contribution, but I’m far too distracted by encounters with numerous HOPL and PPIG papers, weather forecasting and climate modeling software written in fortran, genome sequencing software written in perl, symbolic manipulation software written in lisp, condom-buffing software written in Dylan, web servers written C, web-browsers written in C++, etc, etc, etc.

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