Fortran, short for Formula Translation, is a high-level programming language developed in the 1950s, primarily designed for scientific and engineering applications. It allows for efficient computation and manipulation of mathematical expressions. Over the years, it has been revised and updated multiple times, with modern Fortran combining its traditional strength in numerical computing with contemporary programming paradigms.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Fortran” is: /ˈfɔrtræn/

Key Takeaways

  1. Fortran, short for Formula Translation, is one of the oldest high-level programming languages, developed in the 1950s for scientific and engineering calculations.
  2. It has evolved over the years, with its modern versions – Fortran 90, Fortran 95, Fortran 2003, and Fortran 2008 – incorporating features like array programming, modules, and object-oriented concepts, making it suitable for various applications.
  3. Fortran remains popular in the scientific and engineering communities due to its excellent performance in numerical computations and its compatibility with previous versions, ensuring the continued use of legacy code.


Fortran, short for “Formula Translation,” is an important programming language in the technology world because of its significant role in the development of scientific, mathematical, and engineering applications.

Developed by IBM in the 1950s, it was the first high-level programming language designed specifically for these fields.

Fortran’s emphasis on mathematical capabilities and efficient execution allowed scientists and engineers to solve complex computational problems that were previously unattainable with the low-level languages of the time.

Furthermore, Fortran paved the way for a variety of programming languages and set the stage for today’s modern high-level languages.

Its longevity and ongoing use in high-performance computing make it a historically significant and relevant technology term.


Fortran, an acronym for “FORmula TRANslation,” is a programming language initially developed in the 1950s by IBM for scientific and engineering calculations. The primary purpose of Fortran is to perform complex mathematical computations effectively and efficiently, such as numerical simulations, computational fluid dynamics, and finite element analysis.

One of the remarkable aspects of Fortran is its longevity and adaptability, as it continues to evolve and be widely used in various scientific and engineering fields. The reason behind this long-term utility is that Fortran was designed to provide high performance and portability across diverse computer architectures.

The language has gone through several revisions and adaptations to modern programming paradigms, with the most recent version being Fortran 2018. For example, Fortran 90 introduced array operations, modules, and dynamic memory allocation, making the code more human-readable and easier to maintain.

In essence, Fortran enables researchers and engineers to focus on solving complex problems and facilitating the advancement of science and technology.

Examples of Fortran

Fortran, short for “Formula Translation,” is a high-level programming language designed for scientific and engineering applications. It has been extensively used since its inception in the 1950s. Here are three real-world examples of Fortran in action:

Weather Forecasting and Climate Modeling: Fortran has been widely used in meteorological and climate modeling due to its aptitude for complex mathematical calculations and array manipulation. For instance, the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model, which is used by meteorological organizations worldwide for weather prediction, is primarily written in Fortran.

Astrophysics and Space Exploration: Fortran is commonly used in astrophysics and aerospace engineering, especially for high-performance computing tasks. For example, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) employs Fortran for their climate and atmospheric research. NASA’s Numerical Aerodynamic Simulation (NAS) program has also used Fortran for computational fluid dynamics simulations and other engineering tasks.

Material Science and Engineering: Fortran has found widespread application in material science and engineering, particularly in simulating the mechanical or thermal behavior of materials. For example, in the Crystal Plasticity Finite Element Method (CPFEM), Fortran is used to investigate how materials deform under various applied loads, temperatures, and microstructural conditions. These simulations can help engineers and researchers develop more resilient and efficient materials for a variety of applications.

Frequently Asked Questions about Fortran

What is Fortran?

Fortran, short for Formula Translation, is a programming language that was developed in the 1950s by IBM for scientific and engineering calculations. It is one of the oldest programming languages and is still widely used in high-performance computing and research environments.

What are the advantages of using Fortran?

Fortran is known for its efficiency in mathematical computations, making it a popular choice for numerical problems and scientific research. It offers excellent performance, simplicity, support for parallel processing, and the ability to work with large arrays and complex data structures.

What are some applications of Fortran in modern times?

Fortran remains relevant in many domains, including high-performance computing, engineering, physics, meteorology, and computational chemistry. Researchers and developers use Fortran for simulations, modeling, and data analysis in various fields.

How can I learn Fortran?

To learn Fortran, you can start by exploring online tutorials and textbooks, which can help beginners understand the syntax and learn programming concepts. Additionally, there are online forums and communities where experienced users provide guidance and support.

Are there different versions of Fortran?

Yes, Fortran has evolved through multiple versions, including Fortran 77, Fortran 90, Fortran 95, Fortran 2003, and Fortran 2008. Fortran 2018 is the latest standard, offering improved features, parallel processing capabilities, and other enhancements for modern computing applications.

Related Technology Terms

  • High-performance computing
  • Scientific programming
  • Legacy code
  • Compiler
  • Array programming

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