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Institutionalization of FORTRAN: A Dynamic Storage Allocation Language -- DYSTAL

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129439D
Original Publication Date: 1984-Jan-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-06
Document File: 3 page(s) / 22K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

JAMES M. SAKODA: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

I want to talk about nonnumeric applications that involve list processing, string processing, simulation, formula translation, and so forth. I am going to talk about DYSTAL.

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This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 34% of the total text.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1984 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.

Institutionalization of FORTRAN: A Dynamic Storage Allocation Language -- DYSTAL*1

JAMES M. SAKODA

(Image Omitted: Author's Address: J. M. Sakoda, Department of Sociology, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912.)

I want to talk about nonnumeric applications that involve list processing, string processing, simulation, formula translation, and so forth. I am going to talk about DYSTAL.

I was in the Psychology Department of the University of Connecticut when IBM set up a computation center at MIT for use by New England colleges and universities. I attended the first summer institute offered at MIT in 1956, I believe, and struggled through the assembly- language programming course. At the end of the session, a young man -- I believe Sheldon Best -- got up and announced that IBM was working on an automatic programming system called FORTRAN. The following year when FORTRAN was made available, I attended a short course on it in Boston. As a research associate to the MIT Computation Center, I began to work on statistical programs in FORTRAN; since then it has been the only language in which I have programmed. I think this is the experience of many social scientists and others.

My encounter with nonnumerical programming came in 1963 when I attended a summer institute on the use of TPL V for simulation at the Rand Corporation. The session was organized by Bert Green. I found that IPL v provided dynamic storage allocation using linked-word lists. It provided list-processing operations such as insertion and deletion, list structures, complex structures, and procedures for handling them that would not normally be performed in FORTRAN. On the other hand, data handling was almost nonexistent, input/output was difficult, and even a simple device like a checkerboard could not be easily represented by linked-word lists. Moves on a checkerboard were generally done by creating lists of possible lists. Furthermore, programs written in IPL V were reputed to be slow, and I attributed this to linked- word lists, which required sequential access instead of direct access to the middle of list.

Before the institute was over, I decided to write a list-processing language using FORTRAN subroutines and functions. I was not aware of Herbert L. Gelernter's FLPL, which was written in FORTRAN; Joseph Weizenbaum's SLIP had just been announced, but to me it appeared to be IPL V operations written as a series of FORTRAN subprograms with a few parameters written in machine language.**2 I decided that in order to preserve many of FORTRAN S essential features, lists should consist not of linked words but of a linear string of words. My task was to find ways to provide dynamic storage allocation at run time, list-processing operations, and creation and operation of arrays connected into tree structure...