Algorithm wrangler queries: "I'm beginning to wonder if I should invest the time in learning FORTRAN. Although it is, arcane it seems to be the best tool when it comes to demanding optimization tasks and heavy computations. C/C++ does not cut it for me - it is simply too easy to make mistakes and I find myself using half of my time hunting bugs unrelated to the problem at hand. Additionally, although tools like Matlab exist they don't provide the power that justify the huge price tag they carry. I find any script based language (Matlab, Numeric Python, Scilab) to be inadequate as soon as it is necessary to use loops to describe a problem and using such tools for recursive systems can be a real pain. As another data-point, the Netlib repository seems to be very FORTRAN oriented, and it is a true gold mine when it comes to free routines for solving almost any computing task. What bothers me though is that FORTRAN code is really ugly and the language lacks almost any modern day language feature (I know about Fortran 90 but it is not much nicer than F77, and no one seems to use it). Can it really be true that the best tool we have for heavy duty computing is a 25 year old language, or have you found anything better - free or non-free?"