An article in Nature Tools on the “rise of R”

It is nice that R is so popular nowadays. I have been using it since 1999 or so, when Jaakko Heinonen introduced me to it, and been convinced since 2002 when I started teaching it to undergrads, that once one grasps the logic behind it, it is not difficult to use. At that time, I even developed a couple of simple packages for use in my courses. More recently, in the last three years I have been doing a lot of programming in R, as I am developing a suite of packages, while earlier I had been mostly writing simple scripts for analysing data.

R is as a programming language quite unusual and takes some time to learn to squeeze all the possibilities out of it, both in terms of performance and programming paradigms, but I have grown to like it a lot.

A very simple and a bit superficial note on R was published a couple of weeks ago in Nature. The citations record used, surely underestimates the use of R, especially early on, as it was frequent to not cite R as a publication, and least to have the “R project” as the ‘author’ but instead to mention it as a “product” in materials and methods, or to cite the paper “Ihaka R, Gentleman R. 1996. R: a language for data analysis and graphics. Journal of Computational and Graphical Statistics 5: 299–314.” In those times, even some editors refused to accept R itself as an entry in the list of references, something that did happen to me when I submitted a manuscript. The first article I published which cites R, or rather the 1996 paper on R, is from 2001, so although the first references to the “R project” may be from 2003 as mentioned in the Nature article, citations to books and articles describing R and R packages, appeared in the literature already in the late 1990’s.


eBooks for €4.80 from Packt publishing

The sale is over!

Packtpub has been actively publishing books on computer programming and related subjects for some time. More recently they have also released several titles about data analysis with R. I have found in recent years several nice books in their catalogue, and this Christmas sale of their full catalogue of approximately 2500 eBooks at a flat price of € 4.80 / $ 5.00 for DMR free PDFs and other formats, and no limitations to repeated downloads is really a nice opportunity to get hold of some good books for little money. Here are some examples of books which I have found useful or good from this publisher:

You can get books at the discounted price through Packtpub offer

Bioinformatics with R Cookbook

R Statistical Application Development by Example Beginner’s Guide

Learning RStudio for R Statistical Computing

Caveat: I had written the post before I received an e-mail from Packt publishing offering to give me two free book PDFs if I wrote such a post.

Lovelacen kreivitär kirjoitti tietokoneohjelman, ja häntä opasti Mary Somerville (Hessari 7.11.2014)

Today there was an interesting article in Helsingin Sannomat.

The book by Mary Somerville, that is mentioned in the article is in the public domain and available, as many other old and interesting books, through the Internet Archive.

I was particularly impressed by the preface written in the 1830’s:

Mary_SomervilleIn one of the comments in HS a reader writes that programming is boring… I disagree, just coding may be boring, but designing software and algorithms is anything but boring!

Another reader correctly says that Ada is not a super-computer langauge. In a way it was ment to be when it was designed, but in the sense of being a tool for creating reliable and bug-free software. However, as some other languages designed by a commitee it ended being too complex and inconsistent, and because of this difficult to use as a general purpose language.