R – The perl of statistics

June 20, 2011 at 11:27 pm Leave a comment

I’m learning some R at the moment and really liking it. This may be because I’m not trying to do anything large. I’d previously written this off thinking that I could do everything I needed in scipy, this was a somewhat large error….

From what I can tell R is a do what I mean language for data analysis and statistics, whose entire reason for being is to make it easy to do things single line commands in an interpreter.

People say that the following things go wrong in high level do what I mean languages:
* Impossible to understand code (a la perl), hundreds of ways of doing things
* It becomes difficult to work out what exactly is going on. (People can understand brain dead control commands, but perhaps not magic ones)
* Composition becomes very difficult, lots of pieces that work well – but they don’t work well together.
* Your error is probably someone else’s intent, so it becomes hard to debug.

I’m waiting to see these effects, but it’s rather difficult to distinguish, “this is hard” from “I don’t know the correct idiom for this” or “I don’t know how to do this”.

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