[R]...Why social scientists don't use R

Jonathan Baron baron at psych.upenn.edu
Wed Aug 18 21:50:30 CEST 2004

On 08/18/04 12:16, Cliff Lunneborg wrote:
>My experience has been that the real challenge is not understanding the
>documentation, but  finding it. Once I know the names of one or more
>candidate functions I am happily on my way. One of the delights of
>reading r-help is that one keeps discovering useful functions. In the
>best of all possible worlds I could ask an intelligent agent to summon
>up the k-nearest neighbor functions that would "do X."

I have found the HtDig search engine at my site (accessible
through "Search" on the left side of the main R page, or directly
as http://finzi.psych.upenn.edu) to be pretty useful in this
regard, although it is a long way from artificial intelligence,
which would recognize similar meanings.

It fails for me mostly when different disciplines have different
names for the same thing.  (Economists hate to admit that many of
the statistical ideas they use were invented/discovered by

That said, I'm thinking of switching to the Xapian search engine
and I would welcome any opinions about it.  HtDig is a pain; only
one version of it (an old one) seems to work on Fedora Core 2,
and it now takes almost 10 hours to update each month on a very
fast computer (Pentium 4 2.80GHz with Serial ATA disk

Jonathan Baron, Professor of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania
Home page: http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~baron

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