[R] The hidden costs of GPL software?

roger koenker rkoenker at uiuc.edu
Tue Nov 23 16:40:16 CET 2004

Having just finished an index I would like to second John's comments.
Even as an author, it is  difficult to achieve some degree of
completeness and consistency.

Of course, maybe a real whizz at clustering could assemble something
very useful quite easily.  All of us who have had the frustration of 
for a forgotten function would be grateful.

url:	www.econ.uiuc.edu/~roger        	Roger Koenker
email	rkoenker at uiuc.edu			Department of Economics
vox: 	217-333-4558				University of Illinois
fax:   	217-244-6678				Champaign, IL 61820

On Nov 23, 2004, at 7:48 AM, John Fox wrote:

> Dear Duncan,
> I don't think that there is an automatic, nearly costless way of 
> providing
> an effective solution to locating R resources. The problem seems to me 
> to be
> analogous to indexing a book. There's an excellent description of what 
> that
> process *should* look like in the Chicago Manual of Style, and it's a 
> lot of
> work. In my experience, most book indexes are quite poor, and 
> automatically
> generated indexes, while not useless, are even worse, since one should 
> index
> concepts, not words. The ideal indexer is therefore the author of the 
> book.
> I guess that the question boils down to how important is it to provide 
> an
> analogue of a good index to R? As I said in a previous message, I 
> believe
> that the current search facilities work pretty well -- about as well 
> as one
> could expect of an automatic approach. I don't believe that there's an
> effective centralized solution, so doing something more ambitious than 
> is
> currently available implies farming out the process to package 
> authors. Of
> course, there's no guarantee that all package authors will be diligent
> indexers.
> Regards,
>  John
> --------------------------------
> John Fox
> Department of Sociology
> McMaster University
> Hamilton, Ontario
> Canada L8S 4M4
> 905-525-9140x23604
> http://socserv.mcmaster.ca/jfox
> --------------------------------
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: r-help-bounces at stat.math.ethz.ch
>> [mailto:r-help-bounces at stat.math.ethz.ch] On Behalf Of Duncan Murdoch
>> Sent: Monday, November 22, 2004 8:55 AM
>> To: Cliff Lunneborg
>> Cc: r-help at stat.math.ethz.ch
>> Subject: Re: [R] The hidden costs of GPL software?
>> On Fri, 19 Nov 2004 13:59:23 -0800, "Cliff Lunneborg"
>> <cliff at ms.washington.edu> quoted John Fox:
>>> Why not, as previously has been proposed, replace the current static
>>> (and, in my view, not very useful) set of keywords in R
>> documentation
>>> with the requirement that package authors supply their own
>> keywords for
>>> each documented object? I believe that this is the intent of the
>>> concept entries in Rd files, but their use certainly is not
>> required or
>>> even actively encouraged. (They're just mentioned in passing in the
>>> Writing R Extensions manual.
>> That would not be easy and won't happen quickly.  There are some
>> problems:
>>  - The base packages mostly don't use  \concept. (E.g. base
>> has 365 man pages, only about 15 of them use it).  Adding it
>> to each file is a fairly time-consuming task.
>> - Before we started, we'd need to agree as to what they are for.
>> Right now, I think they are mainly used when the name of a
>> concept doesn't match the name of the function that
>> implements it, e.g.
>> "modulo", "remainder", "promise", "argmin", "assertion".  The
>> need for this usage is pretty rare.  If they were used for
>> everything, what would they contain?
>>  - Keywording in a useful way is hard.  There are spelling
>> issues (e.g. optimise versus optimize); our fuzzy matching
>> helps with those.
>> But there are also multiple names for the same thing, and
>> multiple meanings for the same name.
>> Duncan Murdoch
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