Monthly Archives: October 2011

What’s there to like about R?

Update 10/11/2011: There’s a good discussion on Reddit
Update 10/12/2011: Note manipulate package and highlight data.table package

The R statistical computing platform is a rising star that’s been gaining popularity and attention, but it gets no respect in the hood. It’s telling that a popular guide to R is called The R Inferno, and that advocacy pieces are titled “Why R Doesn’t Suck.” Even the creator of R had this to say about the language in a damning article suggesting starting over with R:

I [Ross Ihaka] have been worried for some time that R isn’t going to provide the base that we’re going to need for statistical computation in the future. (It may well be that the future is already upon us.) There are certainly efficiency problems (speed and memory use), but there are more fundamental issues too.

So why do people still use R? Would we lose anything if we just migrated to (say) Python, which many consider to be a major contender/alternative to R?

In this post I’m going to highlight a few things that are nice about R—not just in the platform itself, but in the whole ecosystem. These are things that you won’t necessarily find in alternate universes like Python’s.

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