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

From: Ted Harding <>
Date: Wed 07 Dec 2005 - 06:02:26 EST

On 06-Dec-05 Martin Maechler wrote:
> [But really, I'm more concerned and quite bit disappointed by
> the diehard ";" lovers]
> Martin Maechler

Well, while not die-hard, I will put in my own little reason for often using ";" at the end of lines which don't need them.

Basically, this is done to protect me from myself (so in fact is quite a strong reason).

I tend to develop extended R code in a "side-window", using a text editor (vim) in that window, and cut&pasting the chunks of R code from that window into the R window. This usually means that I have a lot of short lines, since it is easier when developing code to work with the commands one per line, as they are easier to find and less likely to be "corrected" erroneously.

Finally, when when I am content that the code does the job I then put several short lines into one longer one.

For example (a function to do with sampling with probability proportional to weights); first, as written line-by-line:

myfunction <- function(X,n1,n2,n3,WTS){


# first selection
# second selection
# return the results
  list(X1=X[ix1],X2=X[ix2],X3=X[ix3],ix1=ix1,ix2=ix2,ix3=ix3) }

Having got that function right, with 'vim' in command mode successive lines are readily brought up to the current line by simply pressing "J", which is very fast. This, in the above case, then results in

  N1<-n1; N2<-n1+n2; N3<-n1+n2+n3;
# first selection
  pii<-WTS/sum(WTS); alpha<-N2; Pi<-alpha*pii;   r<-runif(N3); ix<-sort(which(r<=Pi));
# second selection

ix0<-(1:N3); ix3<-ix0[-ix]; ix20<-ix0[ix];
  W<-WTS[ix]; pii<-W/sum(W); Pi<-N1*pii;
  r<-runif(length(Pi)); ix10<-sort(which(r<=Pi));
  ix1<-ix20[ix10]; ix2<-ix20[-ix10];
# return the results
  list(X1=X[ix1],X2=X[ix2],X3=X[ix3],ix1=ix1,ix2=ix2,ix3=ix3) }

The greater readability of the first relative to the second is obvious. The compactness of the second relative to the first is evident. Obtaining the second from the first by repeated "J" is very quick.

BUT -- if I had not put the ";" at the ends of the lines in the string-out version (which is easy to do as you type in the line in the first place), then it would be much more trouble to get the second version, and very easy to get it wrong!

Also, being long used to programming in C and octave/matlab, putting ";" at the end of a command is an easy reflex, and of course does no harm at all to an R command.

Not that I'm trying to encourage others to do the same as I do -- as I said, it's a self-protective habit -- but equally if people (e.g. me) may find it useful I don't think it should be discouraged either -- especially on "aesthetic" grounds!

Just my little bit ...

Best wishes,

E-Mail: (Ted Harding) <> Fax-to-email: +44 (0)870 094 0861
Date: 06-Dec-05                                       Time: 19:02:23
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