Geog 405/605 Syllabus


This is a first course in applying computer programming to data analysis and modeling.  It has no prerequisite courses, and no previous programming experience is required.

Fortran. At the end of the course, students should be sufficiently familiar with the basics of Fortran programming to understand and work with existing models and engage in small modeling and data analysis projects. Developing a global climate model, for example, is well beyond the skill level obtainable in a single course, but understanding individual routines of such a model is within reach.

Fortran remains useful after 60 years of development because of its ongoing evolution and its continued use in atmospheric and other geophysical models. The programming in this  course emphasizes the versions most heavily used over the last 20 years, Fortran 90 and newer. Without requiring programming in old style, we will briefly cover some outmoded features from the long history of Fortran so that students will be able to deal with quirks they may encounter as they reuse or repurpose old Fortran codes. Also presented lightly, just enough to know what to look up, will be some advanced features of Fortran needed for large modeling projects, working within groups of programmers, and working with multiprocessor computers.

Basic programming elements (control structures, data structures, algorithm design, modules) are presented in such a way that the programming learned here will be useful in learning other computer languages or packages. Besides Fortran, we cover sufficient Unix to manage files, use of the Emacs editor, and use of a simple Fortran-callable graphics package to be able to quickly visualize data or results. 

Course meetings in Pearson 218 will feature a heavy element of demonstration, along with some lectures. Exercises will mostly need to be completed outside lecture time.

The computer server for this class is the central Sun server called Strauss, for which your UdelNet username is your login ID. All computers in the Geography Department are properly configured to access this computer via X11, and all Mac OS X, Linux, and Windows machines on the internet can be easily configured (with free or included software) to access this server. Pearson 203 and Penny 005 are available for all students as a working lab when classes are not in session there (the class schedule will be posted on the door).

Textbook: Extensive handouts, no assigned text. Students desiring an additional Fortran reference book should ask the instructor for suggestions. Any reference to Fortran 90, 95, 2003, or 2008 is likely to be helpful, and any reference to earlier versions (before Fortran 90) may be more confusing than helpful. 

Grades for the course will be based on points accumulated via a series of introductory programming exercises (25%), two quizzes (25%), and a multipart final project (50%).


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