[Rd] Re: Packages and Libraries (was: Re: lme4 "package" etc

(Ted Harding) Ted.Harding at nessie.mcc.ac.uk
Tue Feb 8 23:19:46 CET 2005

On 08-Feb-05 Kurt Hornik wrote:
> Afaic, one of the issues is that it seems common practice to refer to
> collections of code as "libraries" or "packages", and we're trying to
> use these rather general-purpose terms in a very precise meaning, and
> obviously not very successful, in particular because the use of
> "library" is highly non-standard.  One idea might be to replace the
> "library" by something else like ... "a place where R knows where to
> find packages" ... hmm, now that's too long, so ...

The only issue I have with "library" vs "package" (or vice versa)
is the following.

I *know* that a collection of functions etc. (such as nlme) is
properly called a "package". I could (and do) get ticked off if
I refer to it as a "library".

However, if I want to use it then I enter


As a result, the little daemons who potter around re-wiring
my mental circuits sometimes cross-connect these two. As a
result, I can inadvertently refer to "the nlme library".

An example is a recent mailing of mine to the list where
I twice referred to a certain "library" (and was amiably
rebuked by Martic Maechler) -- but then I saw that I had
also twice referred to the same "package" in the same mail!

Personally I don't mind whether it is called "package" or
"library", though using the command library() to load a
package does tend, as described, to get me treading on my
own shoelaces.

But, a propos, is there an R entity called a "library"
(other than the command) as distinct from a "package"?

If so, then I can accept the necessity for disciplined
distinction between them, since calling one sort of thing
by the name of another sort of thing necessarily creates
confusion. But if not, then I'm inclined to feel that
a bit of loose talk is acceptable (since then a reference
to a "library" would be understood as a reference to a
"package", since what else would it be?)

Just my thoughts ...


E-Mail: (Ted Harding) <Ted.Harding at nessie.mcc.ac.uk>
Fax-to-email: +44 (0)870 094 0861
Date: 08-Feb-05                                       Time: 22:19:46
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