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A Comparative Study of Programming Languages for Next-Generation Astrodynamics Systems

Eichhorn, Helge and Cano, Juan Luis and McLean, Frazer and Anderl, Reiner (2016):
A Comparative Study of Programming Languages for Next-Generation Astrodynamics Systems.
In: Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Astrodynamics Tools and Techniques (ICATT), In: 6th International Conference on Astrodynamics Tools and Techniques (ICATT), Darmstadt, 14.-17.3.2016, [Conference or Workshop Item]

Abstract

Due to the computationally intensive nature of astrodynamics tasks, astrodynamicists have relied on compiled programming languages such as Fortran for the development of astrodynamics software. Interpreted languages such as Python on the other hand offer higher flexibility and development speed thereby increasing the productivity of the programmer. While interpreted languages are generally slower than compiled languages recent developments such as JIT (just-in-time) compilers or transpilers have been able to close this speed gap significantly. Another important factor for the usefulness of a programming language is its wider ecosystem which consists of the available open-source packages and development tools such as integrated development environments or debuggers. The study compares three compiled languages and three interpreted languages which were selected based on their popularity within the scientific programming community and technical merit. The three compiled candidate languages are Fortran, C++, and Java. Python, Matlab, and Julia were selected as the interpreted candidate languages. All six languages are assessed and compared to each other based on their features, performance, and ease-of-use through the implementation of idiomatic solutions to classical astrodynamics problems. We show that compiled languages still provide the best performance for astrodynamics applications but JIT-compiled dynamic languages have reached a competitive level of speed and offer an attractive compromise between numerical performance and programmer productivity.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item
Erschienen: 2016
Creators: Eichhorn, Helge and Cano, Juan Luis and McLean, Frazer and Anderl, Reiner
Title: A Comparative Study of Programming Languages for Next-Generation Astrodynamics Systems
Language: English
Abstract:

Due to the computationally intensive nature of astrodynamics tasks, astrodynamicists have relied on compiled programming languages such as Fortran for the development of astrodynamics software. Interpreted languages such as Python on the other hand offer higher flexibility and development speed thereby increasing the productivity of the programmer. While interpreted languages are generally slower than compiled languages recent developments such as JIT (just-in-time) compilers or transpilers have been able to close this speed gap significantly. Another important factor for the usefulness of a programming language is its wider ecosystem which consists of the available open-source packages and development tools such as integrated development environments or debuggers. The study compares three compiled languages and three interpreted languages which were selected based on their popularity within the scientific programming community and technical merit. The three compiled candidate languages are Fortran, C++, and Java. Python, Matlab, and Julia were selected as the interpreted candidate languages. All six languages are assessed and compared to each other based on their features, performance, and ease-of-use through the implementation of idiomatic solutions to classical astrodynamics problems. We show that compiled languages still provide the best performance for astrodynamics applications but JIT-compiled dynamic languages have reached a competitive level of speed and offer an attractive compromise between numerical performance and programmer productivity.

Title of Book: Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Astrodynamics Tools and Techniques (ICATT)
Uncontrolled Keywords: scientific programming, computational astrodynamics, open-source software
Divisions: 16 Department of Mechanical Engineering > Department of Computer Integrated Design (DiK)
16 Department of Mechanical Engineering
Event Title: 6th International Conference on Astrodynamics Tools and Techniques (ICATT)
Event Location: Darmstadt
Event Dates: 14.-17.3.2016
Date Deposited: 05 Jul 2016 12:59
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