[Rd] Julia

oliver oliver at first.in-berlin.de
Tue Mar 6 09:56:58 CET 2012

On Mon, Mar 05, 2012 at 04:54:05PM -0800, Nicholas Crookston wrote:
> There are many experts on this topic.  I'll keep this short.
> Newer Fortran Languages allow for call by value, but call by reference
> is the typical and historically, the only approach (there was a time
> when you could change the value of 1 to 2!).

Oh, strange.

> C "only" calls by value except that the value can be a pointer! So,
> havoc is just a * away.

For me there was no "havoc" at this point, but for others maybe.

There are also other languages that only use call-by-value...
...functional languages are that way in principal.

  Nevertheless internally they may heavily use pointers and
  even if you have values that are large arrays for example,
  they internally just give a pointer to that data structure.
  (That's, why functional languages are not necessarily slow
  just because you act on large data and have no references
  in that language. (A common misunderstanding about functional
  languages must be slow because they have nor references.)
  The pointer-stuff is just hidden.

Even they ((non-purely) functional languages) may have references,
their concept of references is different. (See OCaml for example.)
There you can use references to change values in place, but the
reference itself is a functional value, and you will never have
access to the pointer stuff directly. Hence no problems with
mem-arithmetics and dangling pointer's or Null-pointers.

> I like R and will continue to use it. However, I also think that
> strict "call by value" can get you into trouble, just trouble of a
> different kind.

Can you elaborate more on this?
What problems do you have in mind?
And what kind of references do you have in mind?
The C-like pointers or something like OCaml's ref's?

> I'm not sure we will ever yearn for "Julia ouR-Julia",
> but it is sure fun to think about what might be possible with this
> language. And having fun is one key objective.

I have fun if things work.
And if the tools do, what I want to achieve...
...and the fun is better, if they do it elegantly.

Do you ask for references in R?
And what kind of references do you have in mind,
and why does it hurt you not to have them?

Can you give examples, so that it's easier to see,
whwere you miss something?


P.S.: The speed issue of R was coming up more than once;
      in some blog posts it was mentioned. would it make
      sense to start a seperated thread of it?
      In one  of the blog-articles I read, it was mourned about
      how NA / missing values were handled, and that NA should
      maybe become thrown out, just to get higher speed.
      I would not like to have that. Handling NA as special
      case IMHO is a very good way. Don't remember if the
      article I have in mind just argued about HOW this was
      handled, or if it should be thrown out completely.
      Making the handling of it better and more performant I
      think is a good idea, ignoring NA IMHO is a bad idea.

      But maybe that really would be worth a seperate thread?

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