[R] rpart help please

A.J. Rossini rossini at blindglobe.net
Thu Jul 4 23:04:00 CEST 2002

>>>>> "remy" == Remy X O Martin <Remy> writes:

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

Science is RARELY free, unless you have access to prestigious
personnel.  Second, R is "free" only by certain definitions.  It still
costs time and effort to learn how to use; your example of SAS
licensing is perfect.  I had a wonderful conversation with a colleague
yesterday who would be happy to use R if she could find a fairly
complete book on "how to do graphics" in R, to the same extent that
SAS's manuals exist.  Sure, I can answer nearly all of her questions
(and some of the ones she hasn't realized she needs to ask, yet), but
that won't get the job done -- the few thousands of dollars spent on
SAS and the books are cheap compared with her salary (or my time).

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

I would suggest that you (or others) could start plans for one.  Part
of the benefit of writing books or other manuscripts, is that in the
process of clarity, you can gain insight into what you do not
understand, or specifying what is needed.  There are plenty of people
on this list who are happy to provide occassional (free) help for such
attempts.  But they'd like to see the effort first!

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

Then why don't you go through them, and try to phrase what is missing?
I'm sure that the authors would appreciate insight, especially in the
form of contributed sections or examples, even if not necessarily
correct (they'd at least be more easily correctable than by doing it
from scratch.

Yes, it does take time, but everything takes time.  Now find someone
with the knowledge to do that, and it's difficult to let them find the
time.  Help them out, support current projects (esp documentation
projects), and contribute.  

Suggesting projects is pretty silly; nearly any project suggestable
can be approximately solved, though by tools you might not care to
use...  (i.e. the GUI part -- it is solved, though people don't care
to learn LISP or Emacs to contribute the little part remaining --
they'd rather roll their own solutions).


A.J. Rossini				Rsrch. Asst. Prof. of Biostatistics
U. of Washington Biostatistics		rossini at u.washington.edu	
FHCRC/SCHARP/HIV Vaccine Trials Net	rossini at scharp.org
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