Re: [R] A comment about R:

From: roger bos <>
Date: Wed 04 Jan 2006 - 06:31:33 EST

As others have pointed out, since R is more of a programming language than a statistical package, yes, it is _harder_ to learn. I would say its easier to learn than C++, harder to learn than VBA, and on par with learning Java, but that's all debatable.

One thing that makes R slightly more intimidating than it has to be is that once a noob decides to download R, install it and open it, he gets a semi-blank screen and that's it. Eventually he may/may not find out that what he needs to do next is to decide which text editor he wants to use. They all have their pluses and minuses. Some can be as intimidating as R itself. God help him if he tries to learn Xemacs at the same time as learning R.

I learned C++ and other langauges before/concurrently with learning R (actually S+), but I have to admit it was still not easy. Its been a long road for me, but I hardly ever use spreadsheets anymore. However, getting the casual users to do things in R instead of a spreadsheet is not going to be easy and I am not sure that that is the goal.

I am not sure how relevant this comment is, but there is something about a product being free that makes it appear less valuable. At the company I used to work for a group of people tried to persuad the managers to buy S+ licenses for them all. Whenever I would tell them that they could download R right now for _free_ I would just get blank stares.



On 1/3/06, Kort, Eric <> wrote:
> Berton Gunter writes....
> > Ummmm....
> >
> > I cannot say how easy or hard R is to learn, but in response to the
> > commentary:
> >
> > > However, I
> > > feel like R
> > > is not so much of a statistical package as much as it is a
> statistical
> > > programming environment that has many new and cutting edge
> > > features.
> >
> > Please note: the first sentence of the Preface of THE Green Book
> the
> > inventor of the S Language, explicitly states:
> >
> > "S is a programming language and environment for all kinds of
> computing
> > involving data."
> >
> > I think this says that R is **not** meant to be a statistical package
> in
> > the
> > conventional sense and should not be considered one. As computing
> > involving
> > data is a complex and frequently messy business on both technical
> > (statistics), practical (messy data), and aesthetic (graphics, tables)
> > levels, it is perhaps to be expected that "a programming language and
> > environment for all kinds of computing involving data" is complex.
> > Personally, I find that (Chambers's next sentence) R's ability "To
> turn
> > ideas into software, quickly and faithfully," to be a boon. <snip>
> Right.
> So in 2 months I will finish my MD program here in the U.S. I also have
> a master's degree in Epidemiology (in which we used SAS)--but that
> hardly qualifies me as statistics expert. Nonetheless, I have learned
> to use R out of necessity without undue difficulty. So have multiple of
> my colleagues around me with MDs, PhDs, and Master's degrees. We do
> mainly microarray analysis, so the availability of a rapidly developing
> and customizable toolset (BioC packages) is essential to our work.
> And, in the same vein of others' comments, R's "nuts and bolts"
> characteristics make me think, learn, and improve. And the fear of
> getting Ripleyed on the mailing list also makes me think, read, and
> improve before submitting half baked questions to the list.
> So in sum, I use R because it encourages thoughtful analysis, it is
> flexible and extensible, and it is free. I feel that these are
> strengths of the environment, not weaknesses. So if an individual finds
> another tool better suited for their work that is obviously just fine,
> but I hardly think these characteristics of R are grounds for criticism,
> excellent proposals for evolution of documentation and mailing lists
> notwithstanding.
> -Eric
> This email message, including any attachments, is for the so...{{dropped}}
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        [[alternative HTML version deleted]] mailing list PLEASE do read the posting guide! Received on Wed Jan 04 06:42:51 2006

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