ISO/ IEC JTC1/SC22 N3637

Programming languages, their environments and system software interfaces
Secretariat:  U.S.A.  (ANSI)

ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC22 N3637

SC 22/WG 3 Business Plan/Convener's Report 


SC 22/WG 3 Convenor (L. Dickey)


Other document (Open)


As this document was received after the 15 August deadline, it will be
reviewed at the upcoming SC 22 Plenary under Agenda Item 8.1 pending
approval for addition to the agenda.






Matt Deane
25 West 43rd Street
New York, NY  10036
Telephone:  (212) 642-4992
Fax:             (212) 840-2298

__end of cover page, beginning of report____

ISO/IEC JTC1/SC22/WG3 - Programming Language APL

WG3 Business Plan and Convener's Report to the
ISO/IEC JTC1/SC22 2003 Plenary

Period covered by this report:  August 2002 to August 2003.

Date of preparation:  August, 2003

Submitted by:

        Prof. Leroy J Dickey
        Convener, ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 22/WG 3

        Faculty of Mathematics
        University of Waterloo
        Waterloo, Ontario
        Canada  N2L 3G1



1.1     JTC1/SC22/WG-3 Statement of Scope

        Development and maintenance of ISO/IEC Standards 
        related to programming language APL

1.2     Project Report

1.2.1   Completed Projects

        JTC  Programming Language APL, ISO/IEC 8485:1989 
        JTC  Programming Language Extended APL, IS 13751   

1.2.2   Projects Underway

        JTC   Character Repertoire for APL
                         intended for inclusion with ISO/IEC 8485

        JTC   Character Repertoire for Extended APL 
                         intended for inclusion with IS 13751

        Both of these project have passed the DIS phase and
        final copy is now being prepared.  Delivery is expected
        by the end of October.

1.2.3   Canceled Projects


1.3     Cooperation and Competition

        There are no competing standards for APL.  The 
        international standards 8485 and 13751 stand out
        as the primary references for APL implementers.

        The Unicode Consortium kindly granted use of graphic
        images which we have included with the APL Character


2.1     Market Requirements

        APL is a general purpose computing language that excels
        at applications that benefit by the organization of
        data in large arrays and has found users in a wide
        range of applications involving financial, actuarial,
        manufacturing, and many phases of management.

        Outside the insurance industry, one of the major groups
        of users is in the management and use of large
        financial data sets, such as, for example, stock
        trading history.  Both APL and some of its derivatives
        are successfully used here.

        Another group of APL users uses optimization algorithms
        to solve scheduling problems for the transportation of
        people and goods.

        One specialized use is in assemblyline control for
        the manufacture of disk drives.  Though the running
        of this particular task does not exploit what some
        consider to be strongest points of APL, it does
        illustrate the broad scope of applicability.

        One recent niche applications that does exploit such
        strengths have appeared as an integrating part of a
        popular large-business management system.

        One major financial house (Morgan Stanley) developed
        a dialect of APL for their own internal use.  This
        subset, called A+, is tuned to their trading needs.
        It is now publically available.

        Other specialized subsets and variations of APL called
        K and Kdb have appeared and are replacing some popular
        general purpose data base programs.  These highly
        specialized tools are little known, outside their
        sphere of application.

        The vendor of another APL variation called J is
        enjoying some popularity now, and has won some APL
        users who think that J may replace APL.  However, there
        is currently only one J vendor, and the need for a
        standard is questionable.

        One amazing industry practice is illustrated by a major
        developer who has a client requiring software written
        in programming language Ada.  Because of the advantages
        of offered by modeling in APL, development is done in
        the higher level language and translated to Ada for
        before delivery.

2.2     Achievements

        The APL Working Group is proud to report that the

        JTC   Programming Language APL
        JTC   Programming Language Extended APL
        have resulted in high quality works that stand out as
        the primary authority for APL implementors and
        programmers.  Likewise, the projects
        JTC   Character Repertoire for APL
        JTC   Character Repertoire for Extended APL
        have already made a positive impact on the SCAR
        project, since the APL Character Repertoire provides a
        foundation for the identification of all special
        symbols used in APL programming, and provides the basis
        for transfer of information between differing APL

2.3     Resources

        The working group WG3 meets as needed, usually once a
        year in conjunction with the annual APL Programing
        Language Conference sponsored by The Special Interest
        Group for APL, a member group of the Association for
        Computing Machinery.  This conjunction has greatly
        aided the assembly of experts.

        However, for many APL experts, the most exciting part
        of the standards work is over because the most
        interesting technical decisions have been made.
        Examples of these are the brilliant specialized
        functions such as "fuzzy floor", and ever useful
        "domino" functions for instance, which played a major
        role in ISO 8485 and the more recently introduced items
        in IS 13751, such as (i) the rank operator for arrays,
        (ii) the box and enclose functions and (iii) the
        representation of complex numbers and the all important
        value of (-1) raised to the power (n/k).

        As a consequence we have experienced a decline in
        interest and participation.  Candidates for project
        editors are scarce.

3.      FOCUS for the NEXT WORK PERIOD 

3.1     Deliverables

        The final text of the APL Character Repertoire in HTML
        and PDF format is imminent.

3.2     Strategies

3.2.1   Risks

	In adition to the phenomenon mentioned above in the
	second paragraph of section "2.3 Resources", a point of
	contention is that some of the world's leading APL
	experts, in some instances previously members of WG3,
	have suffered from barriers to official participation
	by their respective national bodies.  It is my view
	that qualified experts who volunteer their time should
	be encouraged rather than turned away for pecuniary

3.2.2   Opportunities

        There is need for a new standard for moving data
        between APL applications and applications running in
        other languages.  Several APL vendors have cooperated
        in the implementation of a "Self Contained Array
        Representation" (SCAR).  There is need and interest
        in the development of this idea, and it it ripe for
        SCAR developers claim that they can use this scheme to
        communicate not only between sessions of different
        implementations of APL but also with applications
        running in other languages.

        As a side note, the APL Character Repertoire has aided
        in this effort, even though the APL Character
        Repertoire is not yet a published standard.

3.3     Work Program Priorities

3.3.1   First priority:  
        Deliver APL Character Repertoire

3.3.2   Second priority: 
        Explore feasibility of a new project
        on Self Contained Array Representation.

3.3.3   Third priority:

        WG3, the APL Working Group, will continue into a
        maintenance mode for the two standards APL (8485) and
        APL Extended (13751) and will stand prepared to answer
        questions and provide interpretation and prepare
        corrigenda, if needed.

4.      Other Items

4.1     Action Requests for WG3

        Renew ISO/IEC 8485, when it is time to do so.

        Renew IS 13751, when it is time to do so.

        New Project: Self Contained Array Specification

4.2     WG3 Meetings
        Currently by electronic mail

4.3     Most Recent face-to-face Meeting

        Berlin, 2000-07-23.

4.4     Future Meetings

        Future meetings will continue by electronic mail, at the
        least.  No face-to-face meetings are scheduled at this

	----- end of convenor's report and business plan -----