Re: [R] R is GNU S, not C.... [was "how to get or store ....."]

From: Martin Maechler <maechler_at_stat.math.ethz.ch>
Date: Wed 07 Dec 2005 - 04:19:50 EST

>>>>> "P" == P Ehlers <ehlers@math.ucalgary.ca> >>>>> on Tue, 06 Dec 2005 08:35:07 -0700 writes:

    P> vincent@7d4.com wrote:

>> Martin Maechler a écrit :
>>
>>

    >>> please, please,  these trailing ";"  are  *so* ugly.
    >>> This is GNU S, not C (or matlab) !
    >>> 
    >>> but I'll be happy already if you could
    >>> drop these ugly empty statements at the end of your lines...

>>
>>
>> May I disagree ?
>> I find missing ";" at end of lines *so* ugly.
>> Ugly/not ugly depends on our observer's eyes.
>> From my programmer point of view, I prefer to mark
>> clearly the end of the lines.
>> In many languages, it's safer to do it this way,
>> and I thank the R developers to permit it.
>> (in my opinion, it should even be mandatory).
>> (By the way, marking the end of lines with a unique symbol
>> makes also the job easier for the following treatment.)
>> And yes, I'm also a C programmer ;-)
>>
>> > {and I have another chain of argments why "<-" is so more
>> > expressive than "="
>>
>> Why "<-" seems better than "=" is also quite mysterious for me.
>> There was a discussion about this point recently I think.
>> I believe in 99% of cases it's more for historical reason
>> (and perhaps also for some "snob" reasons).
>>
>> I am not at all a 20 years experienced R programmer, but I have
>> written several hundreds of R lines those 6 last months,
>> and until today didn't get any problem using "=" instead of "<-".
>>
>> But I'll read your chain of arguments with interest.
    P> Well, I'll have to disagree a bit. While I don't care so much
    P> about trailing ";" (as long as it does not become mandatory),
    P> I don't like the use of "=" for assignment and that's definitely
    P> NOT for "snob" reasons, whatever those are. I just think code is
    P> *much* easier to read if assignment is distinguished from
    P> argument settings.

Thank you, Peter. Indeed, this is exactly the main of my arguments: Since "=" is used quite often in S for argument setting in function calls, *additionally* using "<-" for assignment is more expressive.
Also, e.g., a2ps (a nice 'ASCII' to PostScript converter), comes {at least on Debian Linux} preconfigured for R, and uses nice typesetting for "<-"; similarly for ESS. OTOH, it's pretty hard to correctly markup and differentiate those "=" which are assignments from those which are function. argument settings.

    P> Peter Ehlers

[But really, I'm more concerned and quite bit disappointed by  the diehard ";" lovers]

Martin Maechler



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