Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Open-source statistics: R and ESS: "My search was fruitful, leading me immediately to the delightfully GPL-licensed R Project for Statistical Computing: “R is a language and environment for statistical computing and graphics.” (The R system and language are similar to S, developed at Bell Labs.) The R language has functional-programming semantics (which I love) and supports (among others) the object-oriented style of programming, which is used extensively for R’s statistical interface. Most results in R are delivered in terms of objects, such as tables and and vectors and linear models, whose properties you can inspect and manipulate as you would expect. The underlying classes provide specialized methods for common operations so that the objects do the right things in response to generic commands. Immediately, I was hooked on R. Despite having a sharp initial learning curve, R is straightforward to use. Once you get the lay of the land, you can reliably guess what functions and their arguments mean. The help facility is good, too, and can integrate with your web browser if you desire. And the graphics! Graphs and charts are often the first, best way to size up data sets. R makes it easy to create publication-quality graphs and charts, drawing on any number of supported “graphical devices.” Among the stock devices are postscript, pdf, LaTeX,"