Re: [R] History of R

From: Douglas Bates <>
Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2008 15:25:50 -0600

On Fri, Feb 15, 2008 at 3:23 PM, Douglas Bates <> wrote:
> On Fri, Feb 15, 2008 at 1:53 PM, Kathy Gerber <> wrote:
> > Earlier today I sent a question to Frank Harrell as an R developer with
> > whom I am most familiar. He suggested also that I put my questions to
> > the list for additional responses. Next month I'll be giving a talk on
> > R as an example of high quality open source software. I think there is
> > much to learn from R as a high quality extensible product that (at least
> > as far as I can tell) has never been "spun" or "hyped" like so many open
> > source fads.

> > The question that intrigues me the most is why is R as an open source
> > project is so incredibly successful and other projects, say for example,
> > Octave don't enjoy that level of success?

> First and foremost there is the incredible generosity of Ross Ihaka
> and Robert Gentleman who, after spending an enormous amount of time
> and effort in development of the initial implementation, did not
> demand exclusive ownership of their work but allowed others to make
> changes. I believe Martin Maechler was the first non-Auckland person
> to get write access to the source code repository and I'm sure that
> the good experience of working at a distance with Martin persuaded R &
> R to open it up to others. Martin is polite, considerate, meticulous
> and precise (he is a German-speaking Swiss so meticulous and precise
> kind of comes with the territory) and you couldn't ask for a first

I meant to write "for a better first experience"

> experience in sharing something that is very valuable to you with
> someone whom you may never have met in person.
> Not everyone has been that pleasant to work with. One of the first
> things that I did when I joined R-core was to blow up at Kurt and
> Fritz about something - on Christmas Eve! I surprised the group
> didn't boot me out after that start.
> When a project is gaining momentum the personalities of the initial
> developers have a big influence on its success. The R project has
> been fortunate in that regard.
> > I have some ideas of course, but I would really like to know your
> > thoughts when you look at R from such a vantage point.

> > Thanks.
> > Kathy Gerber
> > University of Virginia
> > ITC - Research Computing Support
> >
> > ______________________________________________
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> >
> > PLEASE do read the posting guide
> > and provide commented, minimal, self-contained, reproducible code.
> >
> mailing list PLEASE do read the posting guide and provide commented, minimal, self-contained, reproducible code. Received on Fri 15 Feb 2008 - 21:28:41 GMT

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