[R] Re: How to Describe R to Finance People

ivo welch ivo.welch at yale.edu
Sat Jun 5 16:11:18 CEST 2004

well, it depends on who you call finance people.  i am a finance 
professor, and i use R for my own work these days.  two of my colleagues 
are using S on occasion, S being "close enough" IMHO.

how about students?  I am also writing an introductory finance text 
book, which is currently freely available from my website 
(http://welch.som.yale.edu/book/).  all the figures will eventually be 
done in R (at the moment, some are still in gnuplot), the book will say 
so, and i will provide the code for it.  the statistical analysis is 
done in R, but much of it is not shown (it is just an intro text book).  
hopefully, this will get more finance students asking "what is this 
program?  how can i use it? etc."

but R has also huge drawbacks.  most importantly, there is no good 
*current* textbook for an intro R user.  that is, not for the fancy 
statistical techniques, but lots about data manipulation, plots, linear 
regression, heteroskedasticity and related (white-like) corrections, 
programming, "cookbook" (ala perl cookbook---more about the simple 
stuff:  how to delete or insert a row, how to delete or insert a column, 
typical problems, especially when doing IO).  so, honestly, i cannot 
recommend R to my finance students right now.   this mailing 
list---wonderful as it is [though sometimes "grumpy"]---cannot be a 
substitute for such an intro R textbook.  i cannot ask 300 students to 
use it as their support hotline.  i am afraid that if R becomes more 
successful, this mailing list will be overwhelmed.  the 10-30 people in 
the know who donate their time to help here just cannot do it.   we 
definitely do need this R textbook.  and, though I love the first parts 
of Ripley&Venables, they want it to be a "stats book in R", not a book 
about R.  (witness brian ripley's annoyed reaction everytime i tried to 
suggest elaborations on the first part, or them writing another book.)

one more big problem:  the name "R".  I cannot easily specify to do a 
comprehensive google search on subject matter "insert and R".  A single 
letter like R just does not connect well with google.  this is of course 
steeped in too much history, but a name change would help---calling it 
some random 6-letter combination.


/ivo welch

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