[R] Comparison of SAS & R/Splus

Paul, David A paulda at BATTELLE.ORG
Fri Sep 5 15:03:30 CEST 2003

 On Fri, 5 Sep 2003, Brian D. Ripley wrote:
> In general I find such discussions irrelvant.  
> I bet those users make far, far more errors then any 
> of these packages do so.

However, without having the discussions with my colleagues,
nothing will ever change.  The perception of SAS' "bestness"
flows, in my experience from several things:

a.  It was developed long before Splus and R so more people
are familiar with it, especially managers and other

b.  The FDA requires SAS transport version 5 datasets, and it
is somewhat easier to use SAS throughout a clinical trial 
than to perform analyses in one package and convert data to
another at the end.

c.  Because SAS costs so much $$, it _must_ be good (dumb, but
people do think that)

d.  Because SAS is commercial software, a posteriori errors found in 
clinical trials analyses (and due to software issues) can be 
attributed by the NDA applicants to the SAS Institute.
Lawyers really like this.  Of course, Splus is also commercial 
and therefore does not suffer from criticism on these 

It is a fact of life that building a better mousetrap does
not guarantee that the "world will beat a path to your door".
Marketing and perception are very important!  Part of my 
job involves defending choice of software, and since I'm 
swimming upstream by choosing to learn R, I need to have 
intelligent arguments to use when this choice is questioned.

Given the responses to my original post, I now do have 
those arguments in hand.  This merely confirms what is
already obvious: this is an amazing listserv!


  david paul

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