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Star Notation

The following notation specifies the storage size for a type:


generic-type must be a generic type--one of INTEGER, REAL, COMPLEX, LOGICAL, or CHARACTER. n must be one or more digits comprising a decimal integer number greater than zero.

Use the above form where a type name is valid.

The *n notation specifies that the amount of storage occupied by variables and array elements of that type is n times the storage occupied by a CHARACTER*1 variable.

This notation might indicate a different degree of precision and/or range for such variables and array elements, and the functions that return values of types using this notation. It does not limit the precision or range of values of that type in any particular way--use explicit code to do that.

Further, the GNU Fortran language requires no particular values for n to be supported by an implementation via the *n notation. g77 supports INTEGER*1 (as INTEGER(KIND=3)) on all systems, for example, but not all implementations are required to do so, and g77 is known to not support REAL*1 on most (or all) systems.

As a result, except for generic-type of CHARACTER, uses of this notation should be limited to isolated portions of a program that are intended to handle system-specific tasks and are expected to be non-portable.

(Standard FORTRAN 77 supports the *n notation for only CHARACTER, where it signifies not only the amount of storage occupied, but the number of characters in entities of that type. However, almost all Fortran compilers have supported this notation for generic types, though with a variety of meanings for n.)

Specifications of types using the *n notation always are interpreted as specifications of the appropriate types described in this document using the KIND=n notation, described below.

While use of this notation is popular, it doesn't serve well in the context of a widely portable dialect of Fortran, such as the GNU Fortran language.

For example, even on one particular machine, two or more popular Fortran compilers might well disagree on the size of a type declared INTEGER*2 or REAL*16. Certainly there is known to be disagreement over such things among Fortran compilers on different systems.

Further, this notation offers no elegant way to specify sizes that are not even multiples of the "byte size" typically designated by INTEGER*1. Use of "absurd" values (such as INTEGER*1000) would certainly be possible, but would perhaps be stretching the original intent of this notation beyond the breaking point in terms of widespread readability of documentation and code making use of it.

Therefore, this document uses "star notation" only on occasion for the benefit of those readers who are accustomed to it.