[R] R as a programming language

Alexy Khrabrov deliverable at gmail.com
Wed Nov 7 23:56:57 CET 2007

With all due respect to the great book -- of which I own 2 copies I  
bought new -- it's not an "O'Reilly Programming in <X>" book.  The  
idea of a programming book like that is to thoroughly treat the  
language from a programmer's standpoint, in a fairly standard way,  
such as Ruby or Python.

As I'm learning more of statistics with R, I prefer to do it with the  
book by Crawley.  Looks like most of R books are written by  
statisticians who became programmers, not the other way.  Through all  
those years I periodically follow R, I forget its programming spirit  
in between, and there's no "Programming ..." book to help.   
Statistics is hard to forget once you master it; syntax sugar melts  

"Programming with Data" is the closest to an O'Reilly, but more  
advanced and esoteric than that.

Since R became a bona fide Open Source language with CRAN and all, an  
O'Reilly book by a [Python and Ruby] programmer-turn-statistician is  
long overdue!  If it systematically compares R with Ruby and Python,  
its closest Open Source cousins, it would help even more.  RPy and  
RRb are there to help, too.  Just my $0.01...


On Nov 7, 2007, at 7:46 PM, Bert Gunter wrote:

>>> (Will someone here please write an O'Reilly's "Programming in  
>>> R"?  :)
> Someone already has ... see Venable and Ripley's S PROGRAMMING.
> **However** R is more than a general purpose programming language:  
> it is a
> programming language specifically designed for data analysis --  
> including
> statistical graphics -- and statistics. So, IMHO anyway, it's really
> impossible to discuss it without reference to the data structures and
> procedures underlying such tasks. Because it is targeted to do  
> those sorts
> of things well, it may handle poorly some things that general purpose
> languages do well (minimizing storage with the use of references, for
> example).
> My own experience is that one appreciates the power and beauty of the
> language and the wisdom of the designers the more one uses it in real
> applications. But I am not a computer scientist and have only a  
> limited
> exposure to standard CS concepts and algorithms, to say nothing of  
> "real"
> programming experience. So just my $.02.
> Best regards,
> Bert Gunter
> Genentech Nonclinical Statistics

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