[R] R routines vs. MATLAB/SPSS Routines

Patrick Burns pburns at pburns.seanet.com
Sat Oct 27 11:59:32 CEST 2007

Many of these points are discussed in

a collaborative effort that I edited.  In particular the final quote by
Jonathan Baron addresses point 5:

Another point, which I repeatedly make to students, is that R is
free and will continue to exist.  Nothing can make it go away.
Once you learn it, you are no longer subject to price increases
(e.g., from zero, when, as a grad student, you use your advisor's
copy of SAS, to several hundred dollars or more after you leave).
You can take it with you wherever you go.  The investment in
learning thus has a long-term payoff.

I don't agree with the characterization of appropriate fields for R.
R is rapidly gaining acceptance in finance.  Demand seems to be
outstripping supply for people in finance with R skills.

Patrick Burns
patrick at burns-stat.com
+44 (0)20 8525 0696
(home of S Poetry and "A Guide for the Unwilling S User")

Frank Thomas wrote:

>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).
>>Matthew Dubins
>>R-help at r-project.org mailing list
>>PLEASE do read the posting guide http://www.R-project.org/posting-guide.html
>>and provide commented, minimal, self-contained, reroducible code.

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