Posted on September 14, 2014

Welcome to R

My first impression of R is that it is a quite exotic beast.

Data types seem a bit screwed up.

There’s no scalar types – everything is a vector. Even numbers are just vectors with one element.

Vectors can be two-dimensional – matrices.

For both vectors and lists (well, and everything else I think) indexes start at 1, not 0 like all other ALGOL-derived languages.

Then there’s lists. Which are totally not like vectors. Lists are more like hash arrays or named vectors, whichever analogy you prefer. someList[3] means something but someList$someProperty also means something (most of the times, a vector).

And what’s the matrix equivalent of lists? Data frames. Lists are for vectors what data frames are for matrices.

But then there’s some nice things.

Documentation is everywhere. ?function shows help and examples(function) shows examples. Yes, because help may not be enough. But maybe the examples are still not enough as well. Before heading to google, why not search inside R Just help.search(\"multivariate normal\") and you’re googling inside R anyways.

If you’re computer is stupidly slow, you can start a vanilla version of R with r --vanilla.

Oh, and did I mention if you are referencing fields in an object or list, you don’t need to reference the whole field name? yes, for kids <- list(names=c(\"jack\", \"jill\"), ages=c(12,23)), kids$names produces the same output as kids$n.

Oh, oh, and did I mention there’s objects and classes? This is accomplished simply by having lists with a property called… class.

And you have seen already that the assignment operator is <-- instead of =. This is a bit weird though.

So, all in all, I like it so far. Let’s see what I say about it in a few weeks.