[R] rpart help please

Remy X.O. Martin vsxo at hotmail.com
Thu Jul 4 21:28:09 CEST 2002

2002/07/04 20:46:56, rossini at blindglobe.net (A.J. Rossini) wrote:

>And why should it be freely available?  Someone has to write it;

  I added this specification because I understood I had to be concise, precise and 
specific in order to get an appropriate answer :) Besides, I'd rather prevent 
having to go through the administrative ordeals of ordering books, and use the time 
I have until my next big project to improve on my stats...

>that's hard.  I've heard of proposals to write such a book, but it
>won't be free.  I'm not seeing any support for such a project
>commercially, nor is there formal academic credit in general for such
>(at least not compared to the effort required to make it good, not
>just adequate), which might be the other

I understand what you want to say, with a few major "buts". First, R itself is 
free. It has an large amount of equally free documentation, that is probably 
adequate for statisticians. Then, of course, science itself is for the most part 
free. What we pay for is access to results of colleagues (who usually don't get 
very rich out of it :)). Have you heard of the Budapest Open Access Initiative? 
Books are arguably different, but then there are "plenty of \"textbooks\"" 
available on various subjects, often in fact whole courses of considerable quality. 
Mind you: I'm not saying we should all work for free.

There has been a lot of talk about R GUIs and their use in teaching; I think that 
the sort of documention I have in mind  (or a self-explaining [g]ui) should be 
included in these considerations.

>There are good (though not perfect) introductions in the contrib
>section of CRAN.  There are plenty of "textbooks" on the WWW, in
>various degrees of quality.

The introductions on CRAN are indeed mostly good, but (necessarily) concise and in 
many cases do not explain the examples they give, suggesting they are primarily 
intended for (student) statisticians. As to the textbooks on the web: wouldn't it 
be a good idea to put links to the better among them in that same CRAN section??

>Any scientist has to put in for research equipment.  I've never heard
>of RT-PCR machines being free, nor the computers, nor most tools for
>most endeavors.  Why should statistical tools (knowledge as well as
>software) be treated in the same way?

So then what exactly is the price of knowledge, and what its currency...?
Other than that, I agree. So a colleague pays dearly for his yearly SAS license 
just because he needs an anova that can handle varying samples-per-subject. 
(Something I'm sure R can do, but wouldn't know how.)

>"Statistics, anyone can do that; you provide a service, you aren't
>part of the scientific team, we don't need to provide you with tools,
>since it's more important to pick up reagent X, or our own new Win XP
>laptops, or an additional conference...".
>Thankfully, it's been a long while since I've worked with such
>folk..., though I get inquiries from them, thanks to the two

 I hope you're not counting me among them! I can only wish there were a statistics 
department in the institution I work in (a Prestiguous French College founded by 
François Ier), where I could get the help I (sometimes) need. Rather than that, 
each lab hires its own cleaning personel...

Thanks anyway for your reaction :)


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