Sunday, November 10, 2013

R

I like learning languages and after a little kerfuffle with a Python package I was wondering if there was anything out there for statistical data analysis that might not have so many hidden pitfalls in ordinary places. I knew about R from colleagues but I never payed much attention to it, but I decided to give it a whirl. Here are some brief preliminary notes in no particular order

PLUS
  • Keyword arguments!
  • Gorgeous plotting
  • Integrated workspace (including GUI package manager)
  • Very good documentation and help
  • NaN different from NA
  • They have their own Journal. But what do you expect from a bunch of mathematicians?
  • Prints large arrays on multiple lines with index number of first element on each line on left gutter
  • Parenthesis autocomplete on command line
  • RStudio, though the base distribution is pretty complete, with package manager, editor and console.

MINUS
  • Everything is a function. I love this, but it means commands in the interpreter always need parentheses. I'd gotten used to the Python REPL not requiring parentheses.
  • The assignment operator is two characters rather than one
  • Indexing starts from 1. Oh god, could we PLEASE standardize this either way?
  • Not clear how well R handles "big data" (Data that can't be loaded into memory at once) or parallelization. (To look up: bigmemory)

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