[R] R routines vs. MATLAB/SPSS Routines

Frank Thomas news.ftr at free.fr
Fri Oct 26 17:54:07 CEST 2007

Some major differences between R and SPSS:
1/ The learning curve of R is steep and the one of SPSS is largely flat. 
A difference any student will rapidly understand.
2/ The user interface in R is underdeveloped, in comparison to SPSS.
3/ In R without loving to spend time in programming you get nothing. 
With SPSS your students will concentrate on content, not on technology.
4/ SPSS is so easy to use that the statistical conditions for using 
specific procedures get easily forgotten. R is more close to the 
programming side so no way to forget the foundations.
5/ The economic price of SPSS is really steep, you pay more than 30 
years of development. R is free, but the real price for a student is his 
or her time to learn, which can also be steep.

I think, how to evaluate the differences is in part a question of the 
mindset and the work environment of the future user. If your students 
are more mathematicians, program developers, engineers, science people, 
etc. and need to tweak a procedure to single case applications you will 
have an easy public with R. If they are more of economic, social 
sciences, service industry people, and routine applications or large 
data sets will be their job SPSS, SAS, SPAD are more adapted.

But this may be ground for discussion.

BTW: Contrary to some ideas both R  & SPSS can be programmed and the 
algorithms for both have been published. So, no matter whether open 
source or private property you know what you do (if you want).

Hope this helps,
F. Thomas

Matthew Dubins wrote:
> Hi all,
> I've become quite enamored of R lately, and have decided to try to teach 
> some of its basics (reading in data, manipulation and classical stats 
> analyses) to my fellow grad students at the University of Toronto.  I 
> sent out a mass email and have already received some positive 
> responses.  One student, however, wanted to know what differentiates the 
> routines that R uses, from those that MATLAB and SPSS use.  In other 
> words, in what respects do R routines work faster/more efficiently/more 
> accurately than those of MATLAB/SPSS. 
> I thank you in advance for any answer you can give me (or rather, the 
> inquiring student).
> Cheers,
> Matthew Dubins
> ______________________________________________
> R-help at r-project.org mailing list
> https://stat.ethz.ch/mailman/listinfo/r-help
> PLEASE do read the posting guide http://www.R-project.org/posting-guide.html
> and provide commented, minimal, self-contained, reroducible code.

Dr. Frank Thomas
FTR Internet Research
93110 Rosny-sous-Bois

More information about the R-help mailing list