[R] The Origins of R
Thomas.Adams at noaa.gov
Wed Feb 4 02:00:22 CET 2009
I certainly had that same impression of "mischief making" — I would call
it trolling with the intent of trying to discredit R, its developers &
contributors. "Mischief making" indeed!
John Maindonald wrote:
> In another thread on this list, various wild allegations have been
> made, relating to the New York Times article on R. I object both to
> the subject line and to the content of several of the messages, and
> will not repeat or quote any of that content. It smacks to me of
> mischief making.
> Discussion has centered around the following quote from the NY Times
> “According to them, the notion of devising something like R sprang up
> during a hallway conversation. They both wanted technology better
> suited for their statistics students, who needed to analyze data and
> produce graphical models of the information. Most comparable software
> had been designed by computer scientists and proved hard to use.”
> The comment that "the notion of devising something like R sprang up
> during a hallway conversation" is strictly true. Certainly, this
> seems like a very plausible account. I'd have more difficulty
> believing that the notion was communicated to them in separate
> dreams. Part of the wanted technology was freedom for students to
> take the software home, or copy it down from the web.
> There was a further story to be told, about the origins of the
> language that Ross and Robert implemented and adapted. The NY writer
> pretty much left out that part of the story (S did get a mention, but
> its connection with R did not), but did remedy this omission in a
> Nor did the article do much to acknowledge the workers and work that
> has gone into R's continuing development. Getting the attributions
> "right" is difficult. Even if "right" according to common conventions
> (and one can argue as to just what the conventions are, especially in
> the matter of computer language development), they are unlikely to be
> totally fair. Stigler's Law of Eponomy has wide sway!
> In the preface to the first and second edition of "Data Analysis and
> Graphics Using R", we have:
> "The R system implements a dialect of the S language that was
> developed at AT&T Bell Laboratories by Rick Becker, John Chambers and
> Allan Wilks".
> The only 1st edition attribution to Ihaka and Gentleman was in Chapter
> 12: "For citing R in a publication, use Ihaka and Gentleman (1996)".
> [NB: Type citation() to see the form of citation that should now be
> That was as it now strikes me unfair to Ross and Robert, but no-one
> complained. Perhaps no-one ever read that far through the preface!
> There's an excellent brief summary of the history of R, and its
> connections with S, in Section 1.4 of John Chambers' "Software for
> Data Analysis". Appendix A has further details on the development
> of S, a kind of pre-history of R.
> John Maindonald email: john.maindonald at anu.edu.au
> phone : +61 2 (6125)3473 fax : +61 2(6125)5549
> Centre for Mathematics & Its Applications, Room 1194,
> John Dedman Mathematical Sciences Building (Building 27)
> Australian National University, Canberra ACT 0200.
> R-help at r-project.org mailing list
> PLEASE do read the posting guide
> and provide commented, minimal, self-contained, reproducible code.
Thomas E Adams
National Weather Service
Ohio River Forecast Center
1901 South State Route 134
Wilmington, OH 45177
EMAIL: thomas.adams at noaa.gov
More information about the R-help