[R] new user

Peter Dalgaard BSA p.dalgaard at biostat.ku.dk
Wed Jul 10 19:02:51 CEST 2002

"Paolo Covelli" <pcovelli at tin.it> writes:

> Hi,
> I'm a beginner of R.
> I find it absoluty fantastic, flexible and very extensible.
> For the moment only a curiosity.. Why the name R? (are they perhaps the
> initials of Robert Gentleman and Ross Ihaka?, or is the name correlated with
> S language?)
> Sorry for my poor question but I am very curious

The precise reasoning is lost in the mists of time, but my upcoming
book has this in the Preface, and people who might know better has had
the chance to protest:

"R owes its name to typical Internet humour. You may be
 familiar with the programming language C (whose name is a story in
 itself).  Inspired by this, Becker and Chambers chose in the early
 1980s to call their newly developed statistical programming language
 S.  This language was further developed into the commercial product
 S-PLUS, which by the end of the decade was in widespread use among
 statisticians of all kinds. Ross Ihaka and Robert Gentleman from the
 University of Auckland, New Zealand chose to write a reduced version
 of S for teaching purposes, and what was more natural than choosing
 the immediately preceding letter?  Ross' and Robert's initials may
 also have played a role."

I might add that at least Robert has strongly objected to switching
the name to "R-squared" (i.e., the product of R. and R.) on the basis
of its being "too cute".

   O__  ---- Peter Dalgaard             Blegdamsvej 3  
  c/ /'_ --- Dept. of Biostatistics     2200 Cph. N   
 (*) \(*) -- University of Copenhagen   Denmark      Ph: (+45) 35327918
~~~~~~~~~~ - (p.dalgaard at biostat.ku.dk)             FAX: (+45) 35327907
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