Re: R-beta: Teach material for R

Martin Maechler (
Thu, 26 Mar 1998 16:43:36 +0100

Date: Thu, 26 Mar 1998 16:43:36 +0100
Message-Id: <>
From: Martin Maechler <>
Subject: Re: R-beta: Teach material for R

>>>>> "Kenneth" == Kenneth Nordstrom <> writes:

    Kenneth> Howdy!  I'm a newbie in R, but have nevertheless gone out on a
    Kenneth> limb and used R this spring for teaching our stats students
    Kenneth> "modern data-analysis".  I've been using RNotes, but to get
    Kenneth> some more (statistical) meat on the bones, I've complemented
    Kenneth> it with material from Venables-Ripley. Most of the V-R stuff
    Kenneth> (that I've tried) seems to work out of the box.

    Kenneth> Q-1: Is this generally the case (except for obvious
    Kenneth> differences with S+ like 3-dim graphics)? If yes, why is it
    Kenneth> necessary to port MASS if you can source the files on their
    Kenneth> diskette? Anyone tried this, or used other material for
    Kenneth> teaching data-analysis with R a la V-R?

You must have been that you didn't have problems with "MASS".
Part of it certainly is because V&R use a very good S programming style.

Many things (95%, 98% ??)  *do* work out of the box.
But the remaining (2-5%) can be a pain, especially if they are hidden,
and don't even produce an obvious error message.

    Kenneth> Q-2: How does R compare with XploRe? The latter seems to have
    Kenneth> the advantage that more macros/functions are already written,
    Kenneth> it has a nice graphical user interface (a consideration when
    Kenneth> teaching) as well as 3-dim graphics (also dynamical). Has
    Kenneth> anyone compared these in terms of capabilities as programming
    Kenneth> languages? (Note that you can get XploRe for LINUX for free
    Kenneth> and without expiry date!)

I'm sure XploRe has some (even many?) pluses over R; especially the
availability of modern non/semi-parametric curve fitting and other modern
statistical methods and the extensive and nicely written
documentation.. and ... and...

Programming Language: I'd be interested to hear opinions here.
	I remember having preferred the S language (of which R is a dialect)
	quite a bit.  However, I am severely biased... :-)

The big drawback for many of the "R fans" is that it is
commercial and only available as binary, and therefore not free in the
sense of the Free Software Foundation.
[[Also: There is a saying that software is only *really* documented,
	and usable for scientific purposes
	if its source code is available (together with more doc..!).
  However I know that this view is quite extreme, 
  even more than I am .. ;-)
Martin Maechler <>			<><
Seminar fuer Statistik, ETH-Zentrum SOL G1;	Sonneggstr.33
ETH (Federal Inst. Technology)	8092 Zurich	SWITZERLAND
phone: x-41-1-632-3408		fax: ...-1086
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