This page lists a few areas where I have written popular articles about scientific and technical topics.
Java as a Scientific Programming Language
Java was developed around 1995. It’s author, James Gosling, wanted a universal language that could be embedded in devices, such as toasters and microwave ovens. Okay, I thought: Java means coffee, and coffee machines could probably benefit from an embedded language, too. What happened, of course, is that Java exceeded all other languages as the premier programming environment for business. And as far as I know, toasters and microwaves are still not important markets for Java!
As far as I know, I am one of the first people to write about the use of Java in the scientific arena – and to my knowledge, the only person to apply a well-known concept in software engineering (so-called “design patterns”) to scientific challenges. This was a series of two articles that were published by the Gamelan publishing house.
This is the first article in a two-part series, and it’s primarily addressed to non-scientists. It goes into some detail about how scientists use computers and what’s important to them.
This article is written for scientists who are coming from a traditional Fortran background and are interested in seeing how to approach some classical programming challenges in Java. But I was also very sneaky: I made sure that traditional programmers who read this article would also gain some insight into challenges that scientists faced!
Are these articles still current today?
I wrote these articles about 15 years ago, so it is natural to ask if they are still relevant today. I think they are. Java has never established itself as the de facto programming language of choice among scientists, and for very good reasons I describe in the articles. A few of the links are cited no longer exist, and a few new links have risen to take their place. But on the whole, I believe the articles are still current today.