The year was 1988. Voices hushed in trepidation, the apprentices gathered in a dingy corner of the Engineering building. In the undergraduate computer lab we assembled to offer sacrifices to the mainframe, hunched over the fading amber or green glow of hesitant dumb terminals, all connected to the mighty UNIX (VAX/VMS) mainframe. Poor first year acolytes we were, learning various complex incantations to extract data from the Beast. We learned to navigate the perils of UNIX: using
fortran, and other strange spells to tame the Beast. For some of those innocent souls, the Beast caused them to cringe in fear and retreat to a “lesser” academic career, or flee gibbering and drooling in fear. Alas, I was an overconfident youth whose world was shattered by the Beast. So it was that I gave up my dream of conquest and glory.
But fate is fickle, and the world ever turns. So it was that seven years later, after a journeyman’s life, I wandered accidentally back into the nether realms of UNIX. However this time, I was different — stronger in body and mind from years of hard labour — and was wary of the nature of the Beast. Also, Unix itself was a different creature, somewhat mellowed with age, more tractable, less hostile: even unto supporting lower-case symbols and X-windows. So it was that an uneasy truce was forged between Unix and I. We learned to work together. Thus it was that I saw the Beast in a different light: a creature of mankind designed to serve, but only those who prove themselves worthy by mastering its secrets.
One of my greatest masterpieces was written in g77, the GNU port of Fortran. This program applies the Revised Simplex Method in two phases to find the optimal solution to a set of linear equations. I can’t remember all the mathematical theory and strategies involved, but the code still looks cool. For posterity I now give it to the world.
simplex.f (moved to GitHub)
Note: the above code has not been compiled or executed since sometime around 1998.
PS: Hi Professor!