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What Is Fortran?

There are many programming languages out there, but one that stands out from the rest is Fortran. Famous for its ability to run complex mathematical tasks, developers and programmers have used this language since the 1950s. Even though this language has been around for decades, it’s still relevant today, as you’ll find out in this overview.

What is Fortran?

Fortran, an acronym for ‘Formula Translation’, is a high-level and general-purpose programming language. It is widely recognized for its effective usage in numerically and computationally intensive tasks. The language has proved its worth by serving as a reliable tool for scientists and engineers alike.

Creation of Fortran

The birth of Fortran dates back to the 1950s. A team of programmers at IBM, led by John Backus, embarked on a mission to create a more efficient way of programming. The result was the creation of the first-ever high-level programming language, Fortran, which was unveiled in 1957.

How Fortran works

In terms of operationality, Fortran works by converting human-readable code into machine language. This process, known as compilation, enables computers to perform operations and calculations. Fortran’s syntax is designed to be simple and easy to understand, prioritizing straightforward numerical calculation.

Pros and cons of Fortran

  • Pro: Efficiency: Fortran is renowned for the efficiency it brings to numerical calculations. Its ability to handle complex mathematical computations makes it a favorite among scientists and engineers.
  • Con: Limited Scope: Despite its prowess in numerical computation, Fortran might not be the best choice for other types of programming tasks. For instance, it lacks the flexibility offered by some modern languages for web development or mobile app development.
  • Pro: Legacy Code: Given its long history, a significant amount of scientific and engineering code has been written in Fortran. This legacy code is often well-tested and reliable.
  • Con: Aging Language: Fortran, being one of the oldest programming languages, may not have the same modern features and community support as newer languages like Python or JavaScript.

How Fortran differs from other programming languages

Fortran stands out from other programming languages primarily due to its focus on numerical computation. While other languages, such as Python or R, might offer more versatility, none match Fortran’s efficiency in handling complex mathematical tasks. Additionally, its long history means it has a vast amount of legacy code that newer languages cannot match.

The basics of Fortran

To get started with Fortran, one needs to understand its basic elements such as variables, loops, and functions. Variables are used to store data, loops allow repetition of certain operations, and functions enable the execution of specific tasks. Once users understand the basics, this language’s syntax is straightforward, making it easy for beginners to grasp with some practice.

Fortran is still relevant today

Despite its age and certain limitations, Fortran remains relevant in scientific and engineering fields. Its efficiency and large body of legacy code make it a valuable language to learn and understand. Whether you’re a seasoned programmer or a novice, exploring Fortran can be an enriching experience.

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