[Rd] RFC: (in-principle) native unquoting for standard evaluation

Radford Neal radford at cs.toronto.edu
Sun Mar 19 19:36:10 CET 2017

Michael Lawrence (as last in long series of posters)...

> Yes, it would bind the language object to the environment, like an
> R-level promise (but "promise" of course refers specifically to just
> _lazy_ evaluation).
> For the uqs() thing, expanding calls like that is somewhat orthogonal
> to NSE. It would be nice in general to be able to write something like
> mean(x, extra_args...) without resorting to do.call(mean, c(list(x),
> extra_args)). If we had that then uqs() would just be the combination
> of unquote and expansion, i.e., mean(x, @extra_args...). The "..."
> postfix would not work since it's still a valid symbol name, but we
> could come up with something.

I've been trying to follow this proposal, though without tracking down
all the tweets, etc. that are referenced.  I suspect I'm not the only
reader who isn't clear exactly what is being proposed.  I think a
detailed, self-contained proposal would be useful.

One thing I'm not clear on is whether the proposal would add anything
semantically beyond what the present "eval" and "substitute" functions
can do fairly easily.  If not, is there really any need for a slightly
more concise syntax?  Is it expected that the new syntax would be used
lots by ordinary users, or is it only for the convenience of people
who are writing fairly esoteric functions (which might then be used by
many)?  If the later, it seems undesirable to me.

There is an opportunity cost to grabbing the presently-unused unary @
operator for this, in that it might otherwise be used for some other
extension.  For example, see the last five slides in my talk at
http://www.cs.utoronto.ca/~radford/ftp/R-lang-ext.pdf for a different
proposal for a new unary @ operator.  I'm not necessarily advocating
that particular use (my ideas in this respect are still undergoing
revisions), but the overall point is that there may well be several
good uses of a unary @ operator (and there aren't many other good
characters to use for a unary operator besides @).  It is unclear to
me that the current proposal is the highest-value use of @.

   Radford Neal

More information about the R-devel mailing list