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Lisp (Dylan?) for Scientific Computing

Dear friends,

I have been following the interesting discussion on floating-point
efficiency in Dylan for a while. I should like to provide a few
comments from the perspective of someone who has been active in the
area of scientific computing for two decades of which one was spent 
within astronomy.

I cannot see how the Dylan language is going to win the scientific 
computing community (or even a discernible fraction of it), if it is 
going to neglect the issue of floating point efficiency.

May be a healthy competition can be instigated between Common Lisp
language developers and implementors vs. Dylan developers and
implementors. I will certainly switch to whatever language comes
first in solving (elegantly of course!!) the needs of scientific 
computing, i.e. combining flexibility with efficiency.

Some of you might be interested in that I am currently in the
process of setting up a restricted (access- and timewise) WAN 
e-mail discussion group on the working title "Scientific computing in the 
1990ies - an astronomical perspective". I expect my host 
organization, the European Sothern Observatory, to have a broad
discussion on a similar topic early next year (which means getting 
prepared now) and that there is interest e.g. in the Italian 
astronomical community by some far-thinking colleagues.

My personal interest is in parallelism, languages (e.g. 
cross-platform portability, longevity of algorithms across language 
modifications or even complete language switches) and software 
environments (for code producers and end-users likewise) in the 
context of scientific computing, which involves almost invariably
a lot of FP-operations. From internal discussions I know that 
(a) data rates from astronomical telescopes will be increasing by 
factors of 10 to 100 in the foreseeable future and that
(b) people realize an increasing discontent with the
FORTRAN/C based interactive (data analysis) systems we have been
using in astronomy for the past 5 to 10 years.

Should any of you like to participate in the discussion, please let 
me know until the end of this month. We can negotiate the form and 
potential benefit for you.


Hans-Martin Adorf
- ST Data Analysis Scientist -
Space Telescope - European Coordinating Facility
European Southern Observatory
Karl-Schwarzschild-Str. 2
D-8046 Garching bei Muenchen
FR Germany
Internet: adorf@eso.org
Bitnet: adorf@dgaeso51.bitnet