Running for WG5 Convenor Announcement

April 21, 2020

I decided to run for WG5 Convenor (International Fortran Committee Chair). I have written up a Platform document that explains why I am running, the issues as I see them, and how I propose to work with the Committee to address them (see also my CV). I have developed this platform with many Fortran community members, both inside and outside of the Fortran Committee. Furthermore, I have also posted the platform as a GitHub repository and I encourage anyone to open issues and Pull Requests (PRs) to discuss and further refine the platform.

The platform details what I would do as WG5 Convenor, if selected. My main goal is to focus on the original mission of Fortran that should still be the mission today: enable scientists, engineers, and other domain experts to write programs that naturally express the mathematics and algorithms employed, are portable across HPC systems, remain viable over decades of use, and extract a high percentage of performance from the underlying hardware.

To achieve this mission, the Committee should increase engagement with Fortran users in national labs, academia, industry, and elsewhere, understand the underlying reasons why many efforts are moving away from Fortran, and address them fully and expeditiously. The most common feedback I hear from Fortran users is that they want their code to run on modern hardware, which as outlined above, has always been a Fortran mission. Unfortunately, in this mission, we currently are falling short. For example, Fortran does not currently have a clear path forward to fully leverage GPUs which are part of most HPC systems today; and I have personally seen several projects moving away from Fortran for this very reason. Another example is the relative lack of library ecosystem and developer tools around Fortran compared to other modern languages.

In order to start delivering on our mission again, we need to substantially improve both the compilers and tooling around Fortran. And we need to work with the wider user community to deliver on the most used/requested capabilities. Given my background in large-scale scientific applications, software development, and tooling, I believe I can bring this user perspective to the Committee. I hope to have the opportunity as the WG5 Convenor to make this a reality by working with the Committee to implement the items in the platform; cultivating a climate of openness, listening, and cooperation to accomplish common goals; and facilitating collaboration with the wider Fortran community. In so doing, we will lay the groundwork to address the major challenges (such as GPU support) before us, which can only be addressed fully and expeditiously with an efficient and productive collaboration of Fortran users, compiler vendors, and Committee.

Nifty tech tag lists from Wouter Beeftink