Re: [R] History of R

From: andy bush <>
Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2008 15:23:11 -0800 (PST)

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?
> 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
> ______________________________________________
> mailing list
> PLEASE do read the posting guide
> and provide commented, minimal, self-contained, reproducible code.


If you don't mind, I'll also throw in my perspective as a 60+ year-old new-comer to R. For me there are at least three hugely appealing aspects to R. First, since it is totally free, R is accessible to those poor in material wealth but rich in intellectual curiosity wherever they live. I personally think that is extremely important. Second, contributors to R are selflessly and continuously doing quite a lot to improve approaches to the analysis of data (and there is such a rich history of that growing daily). I have to say that I am in awe of what I see already developed in R and know from the frequency of updates that the entire enterprise is alive, well and growing. Third, R is just flat out wonderful - I know it rekindles my energy making me feel like a "kid in a candy store" again who wants to see what's new, learn more, and contribute. I truthfully can't think of another element in my professional life that makes me feel so strongly this way. I've never seen anything before like R and I'm just grateful to have lived long enough to experience it. I know that I owe a debt of gratitude to R-developers from top to bottom - and I'm certain I'm not alone in this. In summary, let me just say WOW! You can bet that I've incorporated R into all the graduate classes I teach. It so challenges and opens the imagination.

Andy Bush

ps This is not a solicited remark. It is simply what I personally think and feel.

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