Ian Chivers and Jane Sleightholme,
Computing and IT Services,
King's College, London
Ian Chivers gave an overview of language teaching at King's College. There were general service courses and departmental courses. The authors were not involved in teaching C. Physics department taught C to their students, Electrical Engineering taught Pascal, Computer Science taught C++ and object orientated techniques. There was some inertia in Chemistry which still taught Fortran 77.
The Fortran 90 course consisted of six three-hour sessions. Fortran 90 had been taught since 1994/95 and was used as an introduction to programming. C++ had been tried as an alternative during 1995/96 but Fortran 90 was found preferable. Fortran 95 would be taught from next academic year. Java had also been taught for the past three years although incompatibilities in language specification between different releases had made it "the most difficult language I have come across" from the teaching point of view.
Ian gave a brief comparison of the scientific computing facilities of Fortran, Java and C++ and concluded that Fortran was superior in almost all respects. He gave a reference to the more detailed comparison in the Computational Science Education Project e-book "Fortran 90 and Computational Science".
Much further information on Fortran and other programming languages at King's College is given at http://www.kcl.ac.uk/kis/support/cit/fortran/.
Summary by David Muxworthy
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