[R] Re: Matlab to R ?

Duncan Temple Lang duncan at research.bell-labs.com
Fri Oct 4 15:35:23 CEST 2002

As Martin mentions, a fool-proof, automated translator from
Octave/Matlab to S is unlikely to be complete.  A very different
approach is to leave the existing code in Octave/Matlab and call it
from S.  That is "guaranteed" to have the "same" semantics.  As luck
would have it, I have implemented the basic interface between R and
Octave which allows Octave users to call R code, and that R code to
call back to Octave. The package is available from

There will be configuration issues and annoying bugs to work out, but
the basic model follows that of all the inter-system interfaces we
have developed and is well established.  What is needed is some users
to try it and report the problems.

I believe that a similar R-Matlab interface is feasible and I hope to
do that over the next month or two.


Martin Maechler wrote:
> >>>>> "Robin" == Robin Hankin <r.hankin at auckland.ac.nz>
> >>>>>     on Fri, 4 Oct 2002 08:51:23 +1200 writes:
>     Robin> Hello Michel a good place to start would be
>     Robin> R-and-octave.txt, on the contributed section of CRAN
>     Robin> (Octave is the free version of Matlab).
>     Robin> This shows how common Matlab idioms translate to R.
> and I assume you have seen Paul Gilbert's reply, giving "ex"
> translations of a few idioms.
>     Robin> There seem to be more and more people interested in
>     Robin> porting from Matlab/octave to R.  How about a
>     Robin> specialist mailing list?
> I think a few interested people should "sit together" (in cyberspace)
> and try to improve on the current state.
> I've included John Eaton, the author of GNU octave (the free
> matlab `substitute'), because he certainly knows more about the
> matlab "syntax" than any of us (and Kurt who once new a lot
> about octave).
> Probably everyone agrees that a Matlab -> R translation cannot
> (and probably should not) be automated to full extent.  On the
> other hand, Paul Gilbert's "ex" script should be made into a
> perl or python {or "octave" !?} script and could be enhanced
> considerably, probably.
> It could help matlab/octave users switch to R.
> Another reason I'm interested to some extent is the
> Statistics+Matlab community & software ("Wavelets", "Smoothers" etc)
> where I would like us to get better connected to.
>     Robin> How about a specialist mailing list?
> Not sure if this is needed and makes sense;  I have already set up a dozen
> R-SIG-* (R Special Interest Group in ****) mailing lists and
> only a few are somewhat active.
> But then it may make sense for a short time?
>     MichelA> I have a matlab program. I would like to transfer code in
>     MichelA> R. Is there any translator ?  Thanks for your help
> --
> Martin Maechler <maechler at stat.math.ethz.ch>	http://stat.ethz.ch/~maechler/
> Seminar fuer Statistik, ETH-Zentrum  LEO C16	Leonhardstr. 27
> ETH (Federal Inst. Technology)	8092 Zurich	SWITZERLAND
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Duncan Temple Lang                duncan at research.bell-labs.com
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