Re: [R] R as programming language: references?

From: Peter Dalgaard <>
Date: Wed 13 Apr 2005 - 20:35:33 EST

"Jan T. Kim" <> writes:

> I don't know what Federico Calboli has in mind, but as for myself, upon
> starting with R, I've been looking for an R language reference in the
> style of the Python reference (
> The specification of the grammar and the associated semantics of a
> language gives me the kind of in-depth conceptual understanding that I
> like to have, and I find this more difficult to accrue for R than for
> other languages. For example, I'm still not certain whether I'm able to
> correctly predict how many copies of an object are created during the
> execution of some code, and consequently, I'm not really confident that
> my code is reasonably optimal.
> I'd appreciate pointers to any (more or less hidden) gems I may have
> overlooked, of course.

The R language definition manual is pretty much of that variety. It has the parser specification at the end rather than at the beginning, but otherwise it is quite similar in structure to the Python one.

The document has developed at glacial speed for several years. It probably could do with some restructuring and rewriting (by whom?), but you also have to be aware that some aspects of R, notably computing on the language, creates interdependences in the specification that are not present in other languages. I.e., the parsing section needs to talk about parse trees and their representation as R objects, hence it is useful to have discussed the structure of an R object first.

   O__  ---- Peter Dalgaard             Blegdamsvej 3  
  c/ /'_ --- Dept. of Biostatistics     2200 Cph. N   
 (*) \(*) -- University of Copenhagen   Denmark      Ph: (+45) 35327918
~~~~~~~~~~ - (             FAX: (+45) 35327907

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Received on Wed Apr 13 20:41:35 2005

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