[R] Newbie question: what are the advantages?

Thomas Lumley tlumley at u.washington.edu
Tue Feb 27 02:25:34 CET 2001

On Tue, 27 Feb 2001, hzi wrote:

> Hi -
>     I´m a medical graduate student. I´m totally new to R, although I
> had heard of S before. I read it was GNU free software, and since I
> also use Linux, I decide to check it out.
>     But I have some doubts regarding R: how does using R differ from
> using software packages, like SPSS (which is the one I´m used to)?
> What are the advantages of using R when compared? Is flexibility an
> issue? What about the learning curve? Is it something that is awfully
> hard to learn? And the documentation seems to be rather sparse, unless
> you´re willling to buy a book (no, I´m not some "cheap" person, I´m a
> student from Brazil - things are not so cheap for me...which is one of
> the reasons free software is attractive to me).

Flexibility is one major advantage of R over SPSS. It also has better
`publication-quality' graphics.  It's easier to do simple things in SPSS,
but probably harder to do complicated things.

The available documentation isn't that bad, if you start with
"Introduction to R" and then some of the contributed documentation on
cran.r-project.org.  Learning to use statistical procedures that you
understand fairly well is pretty straightforward. Learning to use
procedures you don't understand at all can be much harder, but that might
be regarded as a feature.  I'd say that if you can use Linux you should be
able to cope with R.


Thomas Lumley			Asst. Professor, Biostatistics
tlumley at u.washington.edu	University of Washington, Seattle

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