Re: R-beta: "Comparison of Mathematical Programs for Analysis"

Bill Venables (
Wed, 10 Sep 1997 07:18:34 +0930

Date: Wed, 10 Sep 1997 07:18:34 +0930
Message-Id: <>
From: Bill Venables <>
To: U-E59264-Osman Buyukisik <>
Subject: Re: R-beta: "Comparison of Mathematical Programs for Analysis"
In-Reply-To: <>

U-E59264-Osman Buyukisik writes:
 > Hi, I have just seen Stefan Steinhaus' web page :
 > I think it would be nice to include "R" as well. 
 > ....
 > The features are the rows of the table.

Not having seen the web-page (and unable to do so right now) I am
not about to pan it outright, but I must say I am largely
unimpressed by these comparisons of software on the basis of what
features they do or do not have, simply because they usually
ignore (or at least downgrade the value of) extensibility.

For example R and S+ do lack built-in polygamma functions, but it
is trivial to write very effective polygamma functions and
suddenly they are available.  (See, for example, the digamma and
trigamma functions in the MASS library.)  For other software
systems doing the same thing is a major undertaking or even
actually impossible unless the vendors do it for you.  That's a
major difference that these comparisons usually hide completely.

Bill Venables.
Bill Venables, Head, Dept of Statistics,    Tel.: +61 8 8303 5418
University of Adelaide,                     Fax.: +61 8 8303 3696
South AUSTRALIA.     5005.   Email:
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