[R] why "R"?

Bill Venables wvenable at arcola.stats.adelaide.edu.au
Sat Mar 20 22:45:08 CET 1999

>>>>> "Friedrich" == Friedrich Leisch
<Friedrich.Leisch at ci.tuwien.ac.at> writes: 

>>>>> On Sat, 20 Mar 1999 21:45:20 +0800,
>>>>> Jose Ramon G Albert (JRGA) wrote:

    JRGA> When I tell several people here in the Philippines
    JRGA> about the wonders of using R, one of the things I am
    JRGA> asked is why is it called "R"?  Does it have anything
    JRGA> to do with the fact that the original writers of the R
    JRGA> code were Robert Gentleman & Ross Ihaka?

    Friedrich> yes, and additionally it's the letter before S in
    Friedrich> the alphabet :-)

I have always taken the naming of R and S (and C for that matter)
to be one of those little mysteries best left unexplained.  It
invariably annoys students immensely when you tell them this!  I
have seen some explanations of how C got its name that have
always been extremely weak and unconvincing, which is probably
just a reinforcement of my contention.  The only really strong
opinion I have had from the originators is that "S" does NOT
stand for "Statistics" (presumably it is supposed to cover much

There is another system for data analysis and graphics called "R
code", by the way, which has nothing whatever to do with R.  I am
surprised that there has never been much confusion, although the
potential is certainly there.

Bill Venables.

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Bill Venables, Department of Statistics,    Tel.: +61 8 8303 3026
The University of Adelaide,                 Fax.: +61 8 8303 3696
South AUSTRALIA.     5005.   Email: Bill.Venables at adelaide.edu.au

*PLEASE NOTE* From 1 May 1999 my contact details will change to:
Bill Venables, Statistician, CMIS Environmetrics Project.

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