[R] R for large data

Prof Brian Ripley ripley at stats.ox.ac.uk
Mon Jul 16 18:31:13 CEST 2001

On Wed, 11 Jul 2001, Micheall Taylor wrote:

> I am trying to gain an understanding of R's capabilities in larger data set
> analysis.  I really like R, but the datasets that I normally work with are
> in the 15m-50m range, sometimes much larger.  The size owes to observations, not extraneous
> variables, so little can be done to "clean" the data of unnecessary
> elements. (i.e. database storage or external data manipulation doesn't get
> me very far)
> Over the past couple of years I've used Stata (prior to that SAS, etc). I
> have 2 gigs of memory, but R seems pretty slow to load relatively modest
> datasets of say 10-30 megs. Much slower to load than say Stata. For
> comparison, stats on loading a 32 meg datafile:
> R - 5.3 minutes
> Stata - 31 secs
> SPSS - 42 secs
> SAS - 21 secs

Loading from what?  I find R images of that size load in a few seconds,
hardly noticeable compared to starting R (or doing anything with them).
Or do you mean reading in from a text file (by read.table, say)?

> I normally start R with the command line switch allowing it to use 600megs
> or so - stata is allocated 200 megs.  I've allocated 1.5 gigs to stata

Um.  Current versions need no switches for modest data sets like 10-30Mb.

> before so I assume my memory management isn't an issue.
> Does anyone have any pointers to documents which discuss R limitations?
> Could there be something wrong with my particular R installation (RH 7.1 and
> most recent stable R release., 2 gigs memory, enterprise kernel, dual
> processor 800 mghrtz, high performance scsi drives)

Brian D. Ripley,                  ripley at stats.ox.ac.uk
Professor of Applied Statistics,  http://www.stats.ox.ac.uk/~ripley/
University of Oxford,             Tel:  +44 1865 272861 (self)
1 South Parks Road,                     +44 1865 272860 (secr)
Oxford OX1 3TG, UK                Fax:  +44 1865 272595

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