RE^2: [Rd] New generic functions in "R base" {was `truncate'}

Prof Brian Ripley
Wed, 23 May 2001 20:40:34 +0100 (BST)

On Wed, 23 May 2001, Warnes, Gregory R wrote:

> > From: Martin Maechler []
> > Sent: Friday, May 18, 2001 11:30 AM
> > To:
> > Subject: RE^2: [Rd] New generic functions in "R base" {was `truncate'}
> >
> [...]
> > Apropos  ci() :
> >
> >  There's the very generally useful  confint() function in MASS.
> >  Since MASS will become one of the recommended packages `real soon now',
> >  I doubt that we'd want yet another one in `base'.
> >  Or do you have reasons to prefer your ci() over V&R's  confint() ?
> >  If so, it may make quite some sense discussing that on R-devel..
> >
> > Regards, Martin
> Actually, I wasn't aware of the confint() function in MASS.  My ci()
> function doesn't have any particular advantage.  
> Actually, this illustrates a problem and raises another issue.  As it turns
> out, I'm not the only one to have (unnecessarily) re-implemented the
> features of confint() because it didn't occur to me to look in MASS for it.
> I'm sure that others have had the same thing happen.
> Shouldn't such generally useful functions get moved into base or some other
> package that is on the default search path?  

Interesting Q.  Partly for perfomance reasons and partly for embedded
applications, we are trying to make base a lot smaller.  The agreed idea
seems to be to have a tiny core for R and lots of added functionality.
Unfortunately whereas S seems to be able to have long search paths without
performance penalty, we haven't found the right tricks in R (although it is
much better than it once was).  So just adding MASS to the path has
something like a 5% penalty (last timed just pre-1.2.0).  And careful
observers may have noticed that R gets a little slower (on almost) each

One step in this direction that 1.3.0 will have is load-on-demand modules,
that is compiled code that is not loaded until used.  This allowed us to
avoid a 50% increase in code size. 


Brian D. Ripley,        
Professor of Applied Statistics,
University of Oxford,             Tel:  +44 1865 272861 (self)
1 South Parks Road,                     +44 1865 272860 (secr)
Oxford OX1 3TG, UK                Fax:  +44 1865 272595

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