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17. Collected Fortran Wisdom

Most users of g77 can be divided into two camps:

Users writing new code generally understand most of the necessary aspects of Fortran to write "mainstream" code, but often need help deciding how to handle problems, such as the construction of libraries containing BLOCK DATA.

Users dealing with "legacy" code sometimes don't have much experience with Fortran, but believe that the code they're compiling already works when compiled by other compilers (and might not understand why, as is sometimes the case, it doesn't work when compiled by g77).

The following information is designed to help users do a better job coping with existing, "legacy" Fortran code, and with writing new code as well.

17.1 Advantages Over f2c  If f2c is so great, why g77?
17.2 Block Data and Libraries  How g77 solves a common problem.
17.3 Loops  Fortran DO loops surprise many people.
17.4 Working Programs  Getting programs to work should be done first.
17.5 Overly Convenient Command-line Options  Temptations to avoid, habits to not form.
17.6 Faster Programs  Everybody wants these, but at what cost?

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17.1 Advantages Over f2c

Without f2c, g77 would have taken much longer to do and probably not been as good for quite a while. Sometimes people who notice how much g77 depends on, and documents encouragement to use, f2c ask why g77 was created if f2c already existed.

This section gives some basic answers to these questions, though it is not intended to be comprehensive.

17.1.1 Language Extensions  Features used by Fortran code.
17.1.2 Diagnostic Abilities  Abilities to spot problems early.
17.1.3 Compiler Options  Features helpful to accommodate legacy code, etc.
17.1.4 Compiler Speed  Speed of the compilation process.
17.1.5 Program Speed  Speed of the generated, optimized code.
17.1.6 Ease of Debugging  Debugging ease-of-use at the source level.
17.1.7 Character and Hollerith Constants  A byte saved is a byte earned.

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17.1.1 Language Extensions

g77 offers several extensions to FORTRAN 77 language that f2c doesn't:

g77 also implements iterative DO loops so that they work even in the presence of certain "extreme" inputs, unlike f2c. See section 17.3 Loops.

However, f2c offers a few that g77 doesn't, such as:

It is expected that g77 will offer some or all of these missing features at some time in the future.

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17.1.2 Diagnostic Abilities

g77 offers better diagnosis of problems in FORMAT statements. f2c doesn't, for example, emit any diagnostic for `FORMAT(XZFAJG10324)', leaving that to be diagnosed, at run time, by the libf2c run-time library.

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17.1.3 Compiler Options

g77 offers compiler options that f2c doesn't, most of which are designed to more easily accommodate legacy code:

However, f2c offers a few that g77 doesn't, like an option to have REAL default to REAL*8. It is expected that g77 will offer all of the missing options pertinent to being a Fortran compiler at some time in the future.

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17.1.4 Compiler Speed

Saving the steps of writing and then rereading C code is a big reason why g77 should be able to compile code much faster than using f2c in conjunction with the equivalent invocation of gcc.

However, due to g77's youth, lots of self-checking is still being performed. As a result, this improvement is as yet unrealized (though the potential seems to be there for quite a big speedup in the future). It is possible that, as of version 0.5.18, g77 is noticeably faster compiling many Fortran source files than using f2c in conjunction with gcc.

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17.1.5 Program Speed

g77 has the potential to better optimize code than f2c, even when gcc is used to compile the output of f2c, because f2c must necessarily translate Fortran into a somewhat lower-level language (C) that cannot preserve all the information that is potentially useful for optimization, while g77 can gather, preserve, and transmit that information directly to the GBE.

For example, g77 implements ASSIGN and assigned GOTO using direct assignment of pointers to labels and direct jumps to labels, whereas f2c maps the assigned labels to integer values and then uses a C switch statement to encode the assigned GOTO statements.

However, as is typical, theory and reality don't quite match, at least not in all cases, so it is still the case that f2c plus gcc can generate code that is faster than g77.

Version 0.5.18 of g77 offered default settings and options, via patches to the gcc back end, that allow for better program speed, though some of these improvements also affected the performance of programs translated by f2c and then compiled by g77's version of gcc.

Version 0.5.20 of g77 offers further performance improvements, at least one of which (alias analysis) is not generally applicable to f2c (though f2c could presumably be changed to also take advantage of this new capability of the gcc back end, assuming this is made available in an upcoming release of gcc).

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17.1.6 Ease of Debugging

Because g77 compiles directly to assembler code like gcc, instead of translating to an intermediate language (C) as does f2c, support for debugging can be better for g77 than f2c.

However, although g77 might be somewhat more "native" in terms of debugging support than f2c plus gcc, there still are a lot of things "not quite right". Many of the important ones should be resolved in the near future.

For example, g77 doesn't have to worry about reserved names like f2c does. Given `FOR = WHILE', f2c must necessarily translate this to something other than `for = while;', because C reserves those words.

However, g77 does still uses things like an extra level of indirection for ENTRY-laden procedures--in this case, because the back end doesn't yet support multiple entry points.

Another example is that, given


the g77 user should be able to access the variables directly, by name, without having to traverse C-like structures and unions, while f2c is unlikely to ever offer this ability (due to limitations in the C language).

However, due to apparent bugs in the back end, g77 currently doesn't take advantage of this facility at all--it doesn't emit any debugging information for COMMON and EQUIVALENCE areas, other than information on the array of char it creates (and, in the case of local EQUIVALENCE, names) for each such area.

Yet another example is arrays. g77 represents them to the debugger using the same "dimensionality" as in the source code, while f2c must necessarily convert them all to one-dimensional arrays to fit into the confines of the C language. However, the level of support offered by debuggers for interactive Fortran-style access to arrays as compiled by g77 can vary widely. In some cases, it can actually be an advantage that f2c converts everything to widely supported C semantics.

In fairness, g77 could do many of the things f2c does to get things working at least as well as f2c---for now, the developers prefer making g77 work the way they think it is supposed to, and finding help improving the other products (the back end of gcc; gdb; and so on) to get things working properly.

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17.1.7 Character and Hollerith Constants

To avoid the extensive hassle that would be needed to avoid this, f2c uses C character constants to encode character and Hollerith constants. That means a constant like `'HELLO'' is translated to `"hello"' in C, which further means that an extra null byte is present at the end of the constant. This null byte is superfluous.

g77 does not generate such null bytes. This represents significant savings of resources, such as on systems where `/dev/null' or `/dev/zero' represent bottlenecks in the systems' performance, because g77 simply asks for fewer zeros from the operating system than f2c. (Avoiding spurious use of zero bytes, each byte typically have eight zero bits, also reduces the liabilities in case Microsoft's rumored patent on the digits 0 and 1 is upheld.)

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17.2 Block Data and Libraries

To ensure that block data program units are linked, especially a concern when they are put into libraries, give each one a name (as in `BLOCK DATA FOO') and make sure there is an `EXTERNAL FOO' statement in every program unit that uses any common block initialized by the corresponding BLOCK DATA. g77 currently compiles a BLOCK DATA as if it were a SUBROUTINE, that is, it generates an actual procedure having the appropriate name. The procedure does nothing but return immediately if it happens to be called. For `EXTERNAL FOO', where `FOO' is not otherwise referenced in the same program unit, g77 assumes there exists a `BLOCK DATA FOO' in the program and ensures that by generating a reference to it so the linker will make sure it is present. (Specifically, g77 outputs in the data section a static pointer to the external name `FOO'.)

The implementation g77 currently uses to make this work is one of the few things not compatible with f2c as currently shipped. f2c currently does nothing with `EXTERNAL FOO' except issue a warning that `FOO' is not otherwise referenced, and, for `BLOCK DATA FOO', f2c doesn't generate a dummy procedure with the name `FOO'. The upshot is that you shouldn't mix f2c and g77 in this particular case. If you use f2c to compile `BLOCK DATA FOO', then any g77-compiled program unit that says `EXTERNAL FOO' will result in an unresolved reference when linked. If you do the opposite, then `FOO' might not be linked in under various circumstances (such as when `FOO' is in a library, or you're using a "clever" linker--so clever, it produces a broken program with little or no warning by omitting initializations of global data because they are contained in unreferenced procedures).

The changes you make to your code to make g77 handle this situation, however, appear to be a widely portable way to handle it. That is, many systems permit it (as they should, since the FORTRAN 77 standard permits `EXTERNAL FOO' when `FOO' is a block data program unit), and of the ones that might not link `BLOCK DATA FOO' under some circumstances, most of them appear to do so once `EXTERNAL FOO' is present in the appropriate program units.

Here is the recommended approach to modifying a program containing a program unit such as the following:

DATA X, Y, Z / 3., 4., 5. /

If the above program unit might be placed in a library module, then ensure that every program unit in every program that references that particular COMMON area uses the EXTERNAL statement to force the area to be initialized.

For example, change a program unit that starts with


so that it uses the EXTERNAL statement, as in:


That way, `CURX' is compiled by g77 (and many other compilers) so that the linker knows it must include `FOO', the BLOCK DATA program unit that sets the initial values for the variables in `VAR', in the executable program.

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17.3 Loops

The meaning of a DO loop in Fortran is precisely specified in the Fortran standard...and is quite different from what many programmers might expect.

In particular, Fortran iterative DO loops are implemented as if the number of trips through the loop is calculated before the loop is entered.

The number of trips for a loop is calculated from the start, end, and increment values specified in a statement such as:

DO iter = start, end, increment

The trip count is evaluated using a fairly simple formula based on the three values following the `=' in the statement, and it is that trip count that is effectively decremented during each iteration of the loop. If, at the beginning of an iteration of the loop, the trip count is zero or negative, the loop terminates. The per-loop-iteration modifications to iter are not related to determining whether to terminate the loop.

There are two important things to remember about the trip count:

These two items mean that there are loops that cannot be written in straightforward fashion using the Fortran DO.

For example, on a system with the canonical 32-bit two's-complement implementation of INTEGER(KIND=1), the following loop will not work:

DO I = -2000000000, 2000000000

Although the start and end values are well within the range of INTEGER(KIND=1), the trip count is not. The expected trip count is 40000000001, which is outside the range of INTEGER(KIND=1) on many systems.

Instead, the above loop should be constructed this way:

I = -2000000000
  IF (I .GT. 2000000000) EXIT
  I = I + 1

The simple DO construct and the EXIT statement (used to leave the innermost loop) are F90 features that g77 supports.

Some Fortran compilers have buggy implementations of DO, in that they don't follow the standard. They implement DO as a straightforward translation to what, in C, would be a for statement. Instead of creating a temporary variable to hold the trip count as calculated at run time, these compilers use the iteration variable iter to control whether the loop continues at each iteration.

The bug in such an implementation shows up when the trip count is within the range of the type of iter, but the magnitude of `ABS(end) + ABS(incr)' exceeds that range. For example:

DO I = 2147483600, 2147483647

A loop started by the above statement will work as implemented by g77, but the use, by some compilers, of a more C-like implementation akin to

for (i = 2147483600; i <= 2147483647; ++i)

produces a loop that does not terminate, because `i' can never be greater than 2147483647, since incrementing it beyond that value overflows `i', setting it to -2147483648. This is a large, negative number that still is less than 2147483647.

Another example of unexpected behavior of DO involves using a nonintegral iteration variable iter, that is, a REAL variable. Consider the following program:

      DATA BEGIN, END, STEP /.1, .31, .007/
      DO 10 R = BEGIN, END, STEP
         IF (R .GT. END) PRINT *, R, ' .GT. ', END, '!!'
         PRINT *,R
      PRINT *,'LAST = ',R
      IF (R .LE. END) PRINT *, R, ' .LE. ', END, '!!'

A C-like view of DO would hold that the two "exclamatory" PRINT statements are never executed. However, this is the output of running the above program as compiled by g77 on a GNU/Linux ix86 system:

LAST =   .310000002
 .310000002 .LE.   .310000002!!

Note that one of the two checks in the program turned up an apparent violation of the programmer's expectation--yet, the loop is correctly implemented by g77, in that it has 30 iterations. This trip count of 30 is correct when evaluated using the floating-point representations for the begin, end, and incr values (.1, .31, .007) on GNU/Linux ix86 are used. On other systems, an apparently more accurate trip count of 31 might result, but, nevertheless, g77 is faithfully following the Fortran standard, and the result is not what the author of the sample program above apparently expected. (Such other systems might, for different values in the DATA statement, violate the other programmer's expectation, for example.)

Due to this combination of imprecise representation of floating-point values and the often-misunderstood interpretation of DO by standard-conforming compilers such as g77, use of DO loops with REAL iteration variables is not recommended. Such use can be caught by specifying `-Wsurprising'. See section 7.5 Options to Request or Suppress Warnings, for more information on this option.

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17.4 Working Programs

Getting Fortran programs to work in the first place can be quite a challenge--even when the programs already work on other systems, or when using other compilers.

g77 offers some facilities that might be useful for tracking down bugs in such programs.

17.4.1 Not My Type  
17.4.2 Variables Assumed To Be Zero  
17.4.3 Variables Assumed To Be Saved  
17.4.4 Unwanted Variables  
17.4.5 Unused Arguments  
17.4.6 Surprising Interpretations of Code  
17.4.7 Aliasing Assumed To Work  
17.4.8 Output Assumed To Flush  
17.4.9 Large File Unit Numbers  
17.4.10 Floating-point precision  
17.4.11 Inconsistent Calling Sequences  

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17.4.1 Not My Type

A fruitful source of bugs in Fortran source code is use, or mis-use, of Fortran's implicit-typing feature, whereby the type of a variable, array, or function is determined by the first character of its name.

Simple cases of this include statements like `LOGX=9.227', without a statement such as `REAL LOGX'. In this case, `LOGX' is implicitly given INTEGER(KIND=1) type, with the result of the assignment being that it is given the value `9'.

More involved cases include a function that is defined starting with a statement like `DOUBLE PRECISION FUNCTION IPS(...)'. Any caller of this function that does not also declare `IPS' as type DOUBLE PRECISION (or, in GNU Fortran, REAL(KIND=2)) is likely to assume it returns INTEGER, or some other type, leading to invalid results or even program crashes.

The `-Wimplicit' option might catch failures to properly specify the types of variables, arrays, and functions in the code.

However, in code that makes heavy use of Fortran's implicit-typing facility, this option might produce so many warnings about cases that are working, it would be hard to find the one or two that represent bugs. This is why so many experienced Fortran programmers strongly recommend widespread use of the IMPLICIT NONE statement, despite it not being standard FORTRAN 77, to completely turn off implicit typing. (g77 supports IMPLICIT NONE, as do almost all FORTRAN 77 compilers.)

Note that `-Wimplicit' catches only implicit typing of names. It does not catch implicit typing of expressions such as `X**(2/3)'. Such expressions can be buggy as well--in fact, `X**(2/3)' is equivalent to `X**0', due to the way Fortran expressions are given types and then evaluated. (In this particular case, the programmer probably wanted `X**(2./3.)'.)

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17.4.2 Variables Assumed To Be Zero

Many Fortran programs were developed on systems that provided automatic initialization of all, or some, variables and arrays to zero. As a result, many of these programs depend, sometimes inadvertently, on this behavior, though to do so violates the Fortran standards.

You can ask g77 for this behavior by specifying the `-finit-local-zero' option when compiling Fortran code. (You might want to specify `-fno-automatic' as well, to avoid code-size inflation for non-optimized compilations.)

Note that a program that works better when compiled with the `-finit-local-zero' option is almost certainly depending on a particular system's, or compiler's, tendency to initialize some variables to zero. It might be worthwhile finding such cases and fixing them, using techniques such as compiling with the `-O -Wuninitialized' options using g77.

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17.4.3 Variables Assumed To Be Saved

Many Fortran programs were developed on systems that saved the values of all, or some, variables and arrays across procedure calls. As a result, many of these programs depend, sometimes inadvertently, on being able to assign a value to a variable, perform a RETURN to a calling procedure, and, upon subsequent invocation, reference the previously assigned variable to obtain the value.

They expect this despite not using the SAVE statement to specify that the value in a variable is expected to survive procedure returns and calls. Depending on variables and arrays to retain values across procedure calls without using SAVE to require it violates the Fortran standards.

You can ask g77 to assume SAVE is specified for all relevant (local) variables and arrays by using the `-fno-automatic' option.

Note that a program that works better when compiled with the `-fno-automatic' option is almost certainly depending on not having to use the SAVE statement as required by the Fortran standard. It might be worthwhile finding such cases and fixing them, using techniques such as compiling with the `-O -Wuninitialized' options using g77.

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17.4.4 Unwanted Variables

The `-Wunused' option can find bugs involving implicit typing, sometimes more easily than using `-Wimplicit' in code that makes heavy use of implicit typing. An unused variable or array might indicate that the spelling for its declaration is different from that of its intended uses.

Other than cases involving typos, unused variables rarely indicate actual bugs in a program. However, investigating such cases thoroughly has, on occasion, led to the discovery of code that had not been completely written--where the programmer wrote declarations as needed for the whole algorithm, wrote some or even most of the code for that algorithm, then got distracted and forgot that the job was not complete.

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17.4.5 Unused Arguments

As with unused variables, It is possible that unused arguments to a procedure might indicate a bug. Compile with `-W -Wunused' option to catch cases of unused arguments.

Note that `-W' also enables warnings regarding overflow of floating-point constants under certain circumstances.

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17.4.6 Surprising Interpretations of Code

The `-Wsurprising' option can help find bugs involving expression evaluation or in the way DO loops with non-integral iteration variables are handled. Cases found by this option might indicate a difference of interpretation between the author of the code involved, and a standard-conforming compiler such as g77. Such a difference might produce actual bugs.

In any case, changing the code to explicitly do what the programmer might have expected it to do, so g77 and other compilers are more likely to follow the programmer's expectations, might be worthwhile, especially if such changes make the program work better.

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17.4.7 Aliasing Assumed To Work

The `-falias-check', `-fargument-alias', `-fargument-noalias', and `-fno-argument-noalias-global' options, introduced in version 0.5.20 and g77's version of gcc, were withdrawn as of g77 version 0.5.23 due to their not being supported by gcc version 2.8.

These options, which control the assumptions regarding aliasing (overlapping) of writes and reads to main memory (core) made by the gcc back end, might well be added back (in some form) in a future version of gcc.

However, these options are supported by egcs.

The information below still is useful, but applies to only those versions of g77 that support the alias analysis implied by support for these options.

These options are effective only when compiling with `-O' (specifying any level other than `-O0') or with `-falias-check'.

The default for Fortran code is `-fargument-noalias-global'. (The default for C code and code written in other C-based languages is `-fargument-alias'. These defaults apply regardless of whether you use g77 or gcc to compile your code.)

Note that, on some systems, compiling with `-fforce-addr' in effect can produce more optimal code when the default aliasing options are in effect (and when optimization is enabled).

If your program is not working when compiled with optimization, it is possible it is violating the Fortran standards (77 and 90) by relying on the ability to "safely" modify variables and arrays that are aliased, via procedure calls, to other variables and arrays, without using EQUIVALENCE to explicitly set up this kind of aliasing.

(The FORTRAN 77 standard's prohibition of this sort of overlap, generally referred to therein as "storage assocation", appears in Sections This prohibition allows implementations, such as g77, to, for example, implement the passing of procedures and even values in COMMON via copy operations into local, perhaps more efficiently accessed temporaries at entry to a procedure, and, where appropriate, via copy operations back out to their original locations in memory at exit from that procedure, without having to take into consideration the order in which the local copies are updated by the code, among other things.)

To test this hypothesis, try compiling your program with the `-fargument-alias' option, which causes the compiler to revert to assumptions essentially the same as made by versions of g77 prior to 0.5.20.

If the program works using this option, that strongly suggests that the bug is in your program. Finding and fixing the bug(s) should result in a program that is more standard-conforming and that can be compiled by g77 in a way that results in a faster executable.

(You might want to try compiling with `-fargument-noalias', a kind of half-way point, to see if the problem is limited to aliasing between dummy arguments and COMMON variables--this option assumes that such aliasing is not done, while still allowing aliasing among dummy arguments.)

An example of aliasing that is invalid according to the standards is shown in the following program, which might not produce the expected results when executed:

I = 1

J = J + K
K = J * K

The above program attempts to use the temporary aliasing of the `J' and `K' arguments in `FOO' to effect a pathological behavior--the simultaneous changing of the values of both `J' and `K' when either one of them is written.

The programmer likely expects the program to print these values:

2  4

However, since the program is not standard-conforming, an implementation's behavior when running it is undefined, because subroutine `FOO' modifies at least one of the arguments, and they are aliased with each other. (Even if one of the assignment statements was deleted, the program would still violate these rules. This kind of on-the-fly aliasing is permitted by the standard only when none of the aliased items are defined, or written, while the aliasing is in effect.)

As a practical example, an optimizing compiler might schedule the `J =' part of the second line of `FOO' after the reading of `J' and `K' for the `J * K' expression, resulting in the following output:

2  2

Essentially, compilers are promised (by the standard and, therefore, by programmers who write code they claim to be standard-conforming) that if they cannot detect aliasing via static analysis of a single program unit's EQUIVALENCE and COMMON statements, no such aliasing exists. In such cases, compilers are free to assume that an assignment to one variable will not change the value of another variable, allowing it to avoid generating code to re-read the value of the other variable, to re-schedule reads and writes, and so on, to produce a faster executable.

The same promise holds true for arrays (as seen by the called procedure)---an element of one dummy array cannot be aliased with, or overlap, any element of another dummy array or be in a COMMON area known to the procedure.

(These restrictions apply only when the procedure defines, or writes to, one of the aliased variables or arrays.)

Unfortunately, there is no way to find all possible cases of violations of the prohibitions against aliasing in Fortran code. Static analysis is certainly imperfect, as is run-time analysis, since neither can catch all violations. (Static analysis can catch all likely violations, and some that might never actually happen, while run-time analysis can catch only those violations that actually happen during a particular run. Neither approach can cope with programs mixing Fortran code with routines written in other languages, however.)

Currently, g77 provides neither static nor run-time facilities to detect any cases of this problem, although other products might. Run-time facilities are more likely to be offered by future versions of g77, though patches improving g77 so that it provides either form of detection are welcome.

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17.4.8 Output Assumed To Flush

For several versions prior to 0.5.20, g77 configured its version of the libf2c run-time library so that one of its configuration macros, ALWAYS_FLUSH, was defined.

This was done as a result of a belief that many programs expected output to be flushed to the operating system (under UNIX, via the fflush() library call) with the result that errors, such as disk full, would be immediately flagged via the relevant ERR= and IOSTAT= mechanism.

Because of the adverse effects this approach had on the performance of many programs, g77 no longer configures libf2c (now named libg2c in its g77 incarnation) to always flush output.

If your program depends on this behavior, either insert the appropriate `CALL FLUSH' statements, or modify the sources to the libg2c, rebuild and reinstall g77, and relink your programs with the modified library.

(Ideally, libg2c would offer the choice at run-time, so that a compile-time option to g77 or f2c could result in generating the appropriate calls to flushing or non-flushing library routines.)

See section 15.3.2 Always Flush Output, for information on how to modify the g77 source tree so that a version of libg2c can be built and installed with the ALWAYS_FLUSH macro defined.

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17.4.9 Large File Unit Numbers

If your program crashes at run time with a message including the text `illegal unit number', that probably is a message from the run-time library, libg2c.

The message means that your program has attempted to use a file unit number that is out of the range accepted by libg2c. Normally, this range is 0 through 99, and the high end of the range is controlled by a libg2c source-file macro named MXUNIT.

If you can easily change your program to use unit numbers in the range 0 through 99, you should do so.

Otherwise, see 15.3.1 Larger File Unit Numbers, for information on how to change MXUNIT in libg2c so you can build and install a new version of libg2c that supports the larger unit numbers you need.

Note: While libg2c places a limit on the range of Fortran file-unit numbers, the underlying library and operating system might impose different kinds of limits. For example, some systems limit the number of files simultaneously open by a running program. Information on how to increase these limits should be found in your system's documentation.

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17.4.10 Floating-point precision

If your program depends on exact IEEE 754 floating-point handling it may help on some systems--specifically x86 or m68k hardware--to use the `-ffloat-store' option or to reset the precision flag on the floating-point unit. See section 7.7 Options That Control Optimization.

However, it might be better simply to put the FPU into double precision mode and not take the performance hit of `-ffloat-store'. On x86 and m68k GNU systems you can do this with a technique similar to that for turning on floating-point exceptions (see section 18.3.29 Floating-point Exception Handling). The control word could be set to double precision by replacing the __setfpucw call with one like this:
  __setfpucw ((_FPU_DEFAULT & ~_FPU_EXTENDED) | _FPU_DOUBLE);
(It is not clear whether this has any effect on the operation of the GNU maths library, but we have no evidence of it causing trouble.)

Some targets (such as the Alpha) may need special options for full IEEE conformance. See section `Hardware Models and Configurations' in Using and Porting GNU CC.

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17.4.11 Inconsistent Calling Sequences

Code containing inconsistent calling sequences in the same file is normally rejected--see 25.5 GLOBALS. (Use, say, ftnchek to ensure consistency across source files. See section Generating Skeletons and Prototypes with f2c.)

Mysterious errors, which may appear to be code generation problems, can appear specifically on the x86 architecture with some such inconsistencies. On x86 hardware, floating-point return values of functions are placed on the floating-point unit's register stack, not the normal stack. Thus calling a REAL or DOUBLE PRECISION FUNCTION as some other sort of procedure, or vice versa, scrambles the floating-point stack. This may break unrelated code executed later. Similarly if, say, external C routines are written incorrectly.

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17.5 Overly Convenient Command-line Options

These options should be used only as a quick-and-dirty way to determine how well your program will run under different compilation models without having to change the source. Some are more problematic than others, depending on how portable and maintainable you want the program to be (and, of course, whether you are allowed to change it at all is crucial).

You should not continue to use these command-line options to compile a given program, but rather should make changes to the source code:

(This option specifies that any uninitialized local variables and arrays have default initialization to binary zeros.)

Many other compilers do this automatically, which means lots of Fortran code developed with those compilers depends on it.

It is safer (and probably would produce a faster program) to find the variables and arrays that need such initialization and provide it explicitly via DATA, so that `-finit-local-zero' is not needed.

Consider using `-Wuninitialized' (which requires `-O') to find likely candidates, but do not specify `-finit-local-zero' or `-fno-automatic', or this technique won't work.

(This option specifies that all local variables and arrays are to be treated as if they were named in SAVE statements.)

Many other compilers do this automatically, which means lots of Fortran code developed with those compilers depends on it.

The effect of this is that all non-automatic variables and arrays are made static, that is, not placed on the stack or in heap storage. This might cause a buggy program to appear to work better. If so, rather than relying on this command-line option (and hoping all compilers provide the equivalent one), add SAVE statements to some or all program unit sources, as appropriate. Consider using `-Wuninitialized' (which requires `-O') to find likely candidates, but do not specify `-finit-local-zero' or `-fno-automatic', or this technique won't work.

The default is `-fautomatic', which tells g77 to try and put variables and arrays on the stack (or in fast registers) where possible and reasonable. This tends to make programs faster.

Note: Automatic variables and arrays are not affected by this option. These are variables and arrays that are necessarily automatic, either due to explicit statements, or due to the way they are declared. Examples include local variables and arrays not given the SAVE attribute in procedures declared RECURSIVE, and local arrays declared with non-constant bounds (automatic arrays). Currently, g77 supports only automatic arrays, not RECURSIVE procedures or other means of explicitly specifying that variables or arrays are automatic.

Change the source code to use EXTERNAL for any external procedure that might be the name of an intrinsic. It is easy to find these using `-fgroup-intrinsics-disable'.

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17.6 Faster Programs

Aside from the usual gcc options, such as `-O', `-ffast-math', and so on, consider trying some of the following approaches to speed up your program (once you get it working).

17.6.1 Aligned Data  
17.6.2 Prefer Automatic Uninitialized Variables  
17.6.3 Avoid f2c Compatibility  
17.6.4 Use Submodel Options  

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17.6.1 Aligned Data

On some systems, such as those with Pentium Pro CPUs, programs that make heavy use of REAL(KIND=2) (DOUBLE PRECISION) might run much slower than possible due to the compiler not aligning these 64-bit values to 64-bit boundaries in memory. (The effect also is present, though to a lesser extent, on the 586 (Pentium) architecture.)

The Intel x86 architecture generally ensures that these programs will work on all its implementations, but particular implementations (such as Pentium Pro) perform better with more strict alignment. (Such behavior isn't unique to the Intel x86 architecture.) Other architectures might demand 64-bit alignment of 64-bit data.

There are a variety of approaches to use to address this problem:

Progress is being made on making this work "out of the box" on future versions of g77, gcc, and some of the relevant operating systems (such as GNU/Linux).

A package that tests the degree to which a Fortran compiler (such as g77) aligns 64-bit floating-point variables and arrays is available at ftp://alpha.gnu.org/gnu/g77/align/.

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17.6.2 Prefer Automatic Uninitialized Variables

If you're using `-fno-automatic' already, you probably should change your code to allow compilation with `-fautomatic' (the default), to allow the program to run faster.

Similarly, you should be able to use `-fno-init-local-zero' (the default) instead of `-finit-local-zero'. This is because it is rare that every variable affected by these options in a given program actually needs to be so affected.

For example, `-fno-automatic', which effectively SAVEs every local non-automatic variable and array, affects even things like DO iteration variables, which rarely need to be SAVEd, and this often reduces run-time performances. Similarly, `-fno-init-local-zero' forces such variables to be initialized to zero--when SAVEd (such as when `-fno-automatic'), this by itself generally affects only startup time for a program, but when not SAVEd, it can slow down the procedure every time it is called.

See section Overly Convenient Command-Line Options, for information on the `-fno-automatic' and `-finit-local-zero' options and how to convert their use into selective changes in your own code.

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17.6.3 Avoid f2c Compatibility

If you aren't linking with any code compiled using f2c, try using the `-fno-f2c' option when compiling all the code in your program. (Note that libf2c is not an example of code that is compiled using f2c---it is compiled by a C compiler, typically gcc.)

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17.6.4 Use Submodel Options

Using an appropriate `-m' option to generate specific code for your CPU may be worthwhile, though it may mean the executable won't run on other versions of the CPU that don't support the same instruction set. See section `Hardware Models and Configurations' in Using and Porting GNU CC. For instance on an x86 system the compiler might have been built--as shown by `g77 -v'---for the target `i386-pc-linux-gnu', i.e. an `i386' CPU. In that case to generate code best optimized for a Pentium you could use the option `-march=pentium'.

For recent CPUs that don't have explicit support in the released version of gcc, it might still be possible to get improvements with certain `-m' options.

`-fomit-frame-pointer' can help performance on x86 systems and others. It will, however, inhibit debugging on the systems on which it is not turned on anyway by `-O'.

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