Re: [R] The old question: R vs MATLAB vs Mathematica vs ...

From: Ben Bolker <bolker_at_zoo.ufl.edu>
Date: Mon 16 Oct 2006 - 14:17:37 GMT

Ali - <saveez <at> hotmail.com> writes:

> R introduces itself as a 'statistical' language and environment. There are
> many discussions about comparing R to MATLAB or mathematica (or other
> similar software). It seems to me that these other software have a broader
> range of applications. For example, in Mathematica one can solve a partial
> differential equation numberically or do image processing, or, one can
> connect a data acquisition card to MATLAB to acquire data from a measurement
> and analyse the results.
>
> - Does R already provide such facilities?

some ...

RSiteSearch("image analysis")
http://finzi.psych.upenn.edu/R/Rhelp02a/archive/69200.html   

RSiteSearch("PDE") -- suggests not much in the way of numeric PDE solutions

RSiteSearch("data acquisition") -- suggests not much (but see http://finzi.psych.upenn.edu/R/Rhelp02a/archive/81317.html )

> - Was R design to be merely a statistical tool or was it designed with an
> idea of a general mathematical tool in mind?

  It was designed as a "language and environment for statistical computing and graphics". However, since it provides interfaces to routines written in other languages (Tcl/Tk, C, Fortran, ...) and other programs (databases, GIS, etc.), it can do lots of other things.

> - If the answer to the above is no, can R already be extended to include the
> missing features simply by extra packages

  yes.

or does it need some rational
[???]
> changes to support these features?

   no.

   You should think about why you want to extend R in these ways. If you already have access to Mathematica/MATLAB and are happy with their capabilities, you should just use them. Perhaps you can't afford them; are there other free/open tools that do what you want? If so, you should think about using them, or perhaps writing interfaces between them and R.

  cheers
    Ben Bolker



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