How FORTRAN changed my life.

Back in the day, when dinosaurs ruled the earth and I was a college student, I took FORTRAN. I was well on my way to applying to Medical School, great MCAT’s, good GPA at a serious university in a real subject, and it just seemed the way I would go.

Then in my final term, I took FORTRAN. WATFOR on punched cards, using a cpu-minute at a time on a big IBM mainframe. A multi-million dollar machine my laptop would run rings around today. I took to it like a duck takes to water. I was in love. Within the first day, I’d finished the book and was on my way. My backup plan, graduate school in science, became my plan. Probably for the best, as I’m not sure how inspiring a Medical Doctor I’d be.

I ended up using far more CPU time than I expect was budgeted. Tried some simple numerical integration techniques in my Statistical Mechanics class, probability distribution analysis for the lab I worked in, and even wrote routines that are still in use today. (Translated into C and incorporated in a molecular mechanics package.)

FORTRAN even influenced the science I ended up training in. The NMR people didn’t play with programming, the crystallographers did. So I started on my career developing and studying algorithms, by working out methods to squeeze big problems into little machines with appropriate approximation algorithms.

So while I’m not allowed to admit it today, at least not admit it and keep my credentials as a full fledged computer science profession, I still have a soft spot for the language.

Author: rharrisonauthor

International man of mystery. Well not really, although I can mangle several languages and even read the occasional hieroglyphic. A computer scientist, an author and one of the very few people who has both an NIH grant and had a book contract. An ex- booktrope author and a photographer.

Kevin Drum

Cats, charts, and politics

Moosmosis

Global Health and Education

She Reads Reviews

Historical Fiction, YA, Fantasy, Contemporary, Literary, and Non-fiction Book Reviews

Makabiyahe

To Travel, To Explore

Bedrock & Paradox

I dream of a hard and brutal mysticism in which the naked self merges with a non-human world and yet somehow survives still intact, individual, separate. Paradox and bedrock.

Opulence

Freelancing, Art, and Side Hustles

Blog about Mexico's Must Have Seen

Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Cancun, Riviera Maya, Cenotes, Sian Ka'an, Cozumel, Bacalar, Mahahual, Monterrey...

Disturbed Literature

Writings of Jambo Stewart

J. A. Allen

Scribbles on Cocktail Napkins

O at the Edges

Musings on poetry, language, perception, numbers, food, and anything else that slips through the cracks.

Laugh With Me

This WordPress.com site is the bee's knees

Little Fears

Tales of humour, whimsy and courgettes

charles french words reading and writing

An exploration of writing and reading

%d bloggers like this: