R-beta: R and S: Differences to a person who has used neither

Ross & ihaka at stat.auckland.ac.nz
Tue Jul 1 05:07:05 CEST 1997

Brent Hutto writes:
 > I've read the FAQ section labeled "R and S", but the differences 
 > discussed are a bit esoteric to a person who has used neither 
 > (such as myself, for instance). FWIW, I've also read the article on 
 > lexical scoping - a bit over my head, frankly.

R and S are very similar, and for a while they are going to get more
alike.  The big change will come when S-PLUS switches to John Chambers
new "objects all the way down" version of S.  The aim of this new
version of S is to provide as much flexibility as possible.  At about
the same time this new S version becomes available, I am hoping that a
new version/descendent of R will also be available.  The aim for the
new R version is efficiency and speed (i.e. a compiled language -
initial results indicate a factor 100 - 200 speedup should be possible
for some computations).

 > I would like a modern statistical programming tool to allow me to 
 > move beyond my limited exposure to SAS and similar packages. After a 
 > few hours of playing around with R and xlispstat, I've picked R as a 
 > likely candidate (just can't get used to prefix notation, I guess).
 > Can someone outline the differences between R and, say, S-plus that 
 > would be obvious to a person just starting out programming? If I 
 > stick to R will I be missing out on some "once you see it you've just 
 > gotta have it" features? Any guidance available is much appreciated.

If there are obvious differences, let us know and we do what we can to
move R in the S direction.  The next big push will be to produce Mac and
PowerMac versions as well as final Windows 95 and NT versions.  This
will also entail a cleanup/redesign of the graphics as well.

 > BTW, I don't really consider "telephone support" or "documentation" a 
 > la commercial software to be a feature per se. I'm talking about the 
 > basic capabilities of  the software itself. I don't mind paying for 
 > what I need, but the pricing structure of S-plus would probably mean 
 > waiting until I have an "earn a living" type of task to do rather 
 > than just a desire for learning. Plus it's still old Windows software 
 > with 8.3 file names and memory limitations (last time I looked, 
 > anyway).

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