NASA Organizing $55,000 FORTRAN Competition for Programmers

NASA Organizing FORTRAN Competition for Programmers

NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), a United States government agency that is responsible for science and technology related to air and space, is organizing a FORTRAN programming competition from coders to speed up the software (FUN3D) it uses to design experimental aircraft.

The agency promised to share $55,000 between the top two people who can make its FUN3D software run up to 10,000 times faster.

The FUN3D was developed in the 1980s and the code was written with FORTRAN programming language which is an older computer code, the software is used to model how air flows around simulated aircraft in a supercomputer.

“This is the ultimate ‘geek’ dream assignment,” said Doug Rohn, head of Nasa’s transformative aeronautics concepts program that makes heavy use of the FUN3D code.

Furthermore, Mr. Rohn said the software is used on the agency’s Pleiades supercomputer to test early designs of futuristic aircraft.

The software suite tests them using computational fluid dynamics, which make heavy use of complicated mathematical formulae and data structures to see how well the designs work.

What to Know About the Competition

  • Once designs are simulated on the supercomputer, scale models are tested in wind tunnels and then finally experimental craft undergo real-world testing.
  • Significant improvements could be gained just by simplifying a heavily used sub-routine so it runs a few milliseconds faster, NASA said on its webpage describing the competition. “If the routine is called millions of times during a simulation this could “significantly” trim testing times, it added.”
  • Copies of the code would be made available to any participant of the competition said by NASA so that it can be analyzed, and for them to discover where the performance or capacity of FUN3D is limited and suggest modifications that could speed it up.
  • The code is required to run at least 10 times faster but will be more preferable if it’s quickened by thousands of times, if possible.
  • NASA made known that the changes to FUN3D must not make it less accurate rather its performance should improve.

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