Is Fortran "a dead language"?

Disclaimer: I saw this post on Hacker News and think it might be interesting to the readers here. It is not by me.


The first sentence of my last Fortran newsletter is (translated in English):

Fortran has been playing chess with Death for decades.

And it seems to be a pretty skilled chess player:


The guys over at Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre (EPCC) are truly great for making their stats publicly available. These kind of statistics clearly showcase that Fortran is widely used in HPC applications. It would be cool if other HPC centers released theirs.


Great movie by the way!


There is still a lot of confusion about Fortran nowadays. For example most people still believe Fortran has no object orientation, even though it has been around since the Fortran 90 standard. The real problem is that most computer scientists are not trained in it, and would prefer the comfort of C languages. In fact, they even prefer the long and arduous ordeal of porting scientific computing features to C++, rather than learning a true scientific computing language like Fortran that was built around these features. Go figure :upside_down_face:

Is it a dead language? Well, NVIDIA is invested in developing parallel Fortran along with C++, and new compilers keep coming out regularly from vendors (Intel, AMD, etc.). Fortran speed is also still a benchmark. It doesn’t mean Fortran will regain its popularity levels of the 80s or 90s, but it is certainly not dead, and very much still relevant.

Ironically, there are also several projects around that aim to simplify/improve C++.


This seems to apply here:

“Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.” (Betteridge's law of headlines - Wikipedia)


Whenever, I hear the “Fortran is dead” mantra, for some reason I think of the Bring Out Your Dead scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail (“I’m not dead yet”) and Miracle Max explaining the difference between “mostly dead” and fully dead in the Princess Bride. Since I’m old and haven’t a clue how to embed gifs, memes etc. I’ll leave that to you younger folks with your mad internet skills to do that if you wish


No subtitles but you can read it here: Monty Python and the Holy Grail - Wikiquote

Hum… I also remember the fierce rabbit living in a cavern. Could it be Fortran?

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Crunching numbers:

Edited: a longer version, until the holy grenade:


I think a rabid white rabbit would make an amazing Fortran mascot :grinning: :rabbit2:

Anybody want to give it a shot? Let’s just try out some designs and see where it goes…

The armoured warriors in the video look like templated C++ code, and the guy with the horned helmet looks like the Gnu. Yup, that Monty Python skit has the whole Fortran saga in it :face_with_raised_eyebrow: :nerd_face:

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I guess generative AI could build fun things…

I can’t help laughing stupidly each time I watch that incredible scene… The text is here, for us poor non-native speakers:

That quote would make a good slogan for the mascot: “That rabbit’s dynamite.”

And I learned things in Wikipedia:

The idea of the rabbit in the Monty Python movie was inspired by the façade of Notre Dame de Paris, which depicts the weakness of cowardice with a knight fleeing from a rabbit.
Rabbit of Caerbannog - Wikipedia


You got my vote for the slogan :ok_hand:

Monty Python just never gets old…


I recall that rabbit came to a nasty end when the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch was deployed… And three shall be the number of the counting…


The instructions are precise:

And the Lord spake, saying, 'First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin. Then, shalt thou count to three. No more. No less. Three shalt be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, nor either count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three.

I like the scientific precision of the “excepting”.

But Arthur can’t count correctly: “One!.. Two!.. Five!”


The part of the rabbit dying of the Holy Hand Grenade is pretty fuzzy in the video. Looked at it again in slowmo and that white lump where the grenade lands and explodes could just as well be a knight’s garment. I think the rabbit ultimately survived and is thriving quietly, just like Fortran :muscle:

It’s also rather interesting that the other languages… er, opponents… had to resort to such extreme measures as divine intervention to counter Fortran… I mean the rabbit :grimacing:

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My brain is still rather “generative” but unhappily I have no drawing skills and no AI skills… :smile:
I see a white rabbit, but not rabid, rather gentle. But flying as fast as a rocket, like in the movie.

My generative brain also sees a computer center, with racks, and in the middle of an an alley, a gentle white rabbit. The caption is “That rabbit’s dynamite”.

Or there could be two pills on the ground, one blue, one red, in front of the rabbit. On one of the two pills is written “Fortran”. The caption is “One pill makes you larger and one pill makes you small”, as the Jefferson Airplane were singing in their White Rabbit song, when FORTRAN was still young.

With Fortran , “Feed your head”…

Agree with you on keeping the rabid part out. Also, for a mascot logo we cannot put too much. The key is to be expressive with sobriety. Here are some examples.

I’m thinking a sprinting rabbit or hare. There’s plenty of speed in that… like the Greyhound logo, but with a rabbit instead of the hound… and underneath the slogan whenever desirable: Fortran, that rabbit is dynamite!

We could have the rabbit’s eyes lit up in electric blue or laser red, plenty of graphic effects to make it look even faster and more dynamic… see the rabbit is simple and small, like Fortran, and really fast too with bodies built for speed (80+ kph top), like Fortran.

I know the White Rabbit song, one of my favourites. That’s how we partied in the 70’s if you listen carefully to the lyrics :rofl: :face_with_spiral_eyes:

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The Hare programming language already uses a “rabbit” as the logo. Since this thread has the “advocacy” label I’d mention how Hare has an evangelism page.



The following kinds of marketing activities are explicitly discouraged:

  • Putting down other programming languages or projects because Hare is “better”
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One of the best things Fortran programmers can do to help the Fortran ecosystem is to stop making (blog) posts that associate Fortran with negative words. These titles are readily parsed and picked by all search engines worldwide and even become suggested questions related to Fortran searches because of the number of hits such pages get. My daily feeds have been flooded with comments from this thread and similar threads and posts on HackerNews and the web for the past days and weeks. These titles do more damage than help, even though they are written with good intentions. The law of headlines may serve the most popular languages like Python or C++ well, but I genuinely doubt that is true with Fortran.