R-beta: scoping etc

Z. Todd Taylor Todd.Taylor at pnl.gov
Mon Feb 23 17:24:16 CET 1998

Bill Venables <wvenable at attunga.stats.adelaide.edu.au> wrote:

> [Looking at the way the "S virus" is mutating, it is possible to
> see how before long attach and detach may not be necessary.  The
> inclusion of a data= argument in the fitting and Trellis graphics
> functions, for example, usually obviate the need.  In time it may
> be possible for most functions to have an argument that specifies
> a temporary addition to the top of the search path as the
> preferential source of variables.

Along these lines, I've always wished the fitting and Trellis
functions (of S) would take a search position as the data=
argument.  The main reason I need such a thing is memory---when
the data set is just too large to cram into a single data frame,
you have to put individual vectors in a separate directory (or
user-defined database, or library, or whatever).  S's functions
that allow data= don't allow specifying those
directories/databases.  So you have to worry about name
conflicts in the search path and either do in-function attaching
and detaching, use ugly name prefixes (my usual habit), or
something similarly unsavory.

Of course, R doesn't attach directories at all and still has no
way to allow use of a database any larger than will fit into
memory, so my comment is a bit tangential at this point.  But as
R becomes its own virus, I hope it will come to accommodate
these huge databases in a natural way.

Z. Todd Taylor
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Todd.Taylor at pnl.gov
Why does 'burn up' mean the same as 'burn down'?
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