[R] A comment about R:

McClatchie, Sam (PIRSA-SARDI) mcclatchie.sam at saugov.sa.gov.au
Wed Jan 4 23:42:26 CET 2006

>From: Peter Dalgaard <p.dalgaard at biostat.ku.dk>
>Subject: Re: [R] A comment about R:
>One thing that is often overlooked, and hasn't yet been mentioned in
>the thread, is how much *simpler* R can be for certain completely
>basic tasks of practical or pedagogical relevance: Calculate a simple
>derived statistic, confidence intervals from estimate and SE,
>percentage points of the binomial distribution - using dbinom or from
>the formula, take the sum of each of 10 random samples from a set of
>numbers, etc. This is where other packages get stuck in the
>procedure+dataset mindset.


I really agree with Peter's comment. Matlab is much the same, in this sense.

I've had a lot of trouble getting people at my lab to take on learning R. It
is interesting to me that the one person who has taken the plunge was
educated in Singapore.  I read recently that on measures of science
performance, Singapore schools do very well.  Perhaps students now expect
science to be easier.

I have found also that it makes it much clearer for people to decide if they
need to learn R to be clear that it is like learning a language. You start
with a few packaged functions (e.g. mean), and move on from there. You have
to take a structured approach to learning it, and need to use it very
frequently. You have to learn the syntax, and just like learning Spanish,
don't  expect to read Vargas Llosa before you can say buenas tardes
correctly. Once they understand that, they can decide if they need R, before
they decide whether to invest in learning it. 

Good luck!

Sam McClatchie,
Oceanography subprogram 
South Australian Aquatic Sciences Centre
PO Box 120, Henley Beach 5022
Adelaide, South Australia
email <mcclatchie.sam at saugov.sa.gov.au>
Cellular: 0431 304 497 
Telephone: (61-8) 8207 5448
FAX: (61-8) 8207 5481
Research home page <http://www.members.iinet.net.au/~s.mcclatchie/>
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