[R] Porting let* from Common LISP to R

Luke Tierney luke at stat.uiowa.edu
Thu Feb 12 15:50:06 CET 2004

Just creating variables with assignments is essentialy the same as
let*.  If you need to limit the scope of the variables to part of a
function you can use local(); just remember to use <<- if you want to
change the value of a variable outside the local().

Most Comman Lisp systems have higher default stack limits than R; when
I do lisp-style things I bump up the R stack limit
(options(expressions)) to 1000 or 2000.  Don't go too high or you may
overflow the C stack, which will cause a segmentation fault.  If your
C stack setting is too low, as it is by default in Mac OS X you may
need to increase that at the OS level.  R's lazy evaluation of
arguments also causes different stack usage patterns in recursive
code; sometimes more stack is needed, sometimes less--depends on the

Hope that helps.


On Thu, 12 Feb 2004, Gabriel Baud-Bovy wrote:

> In porting some Common LISP code to R, I am trying to found out whether special
> care must be taken for the let* function. In Common LISP, "the let* block 
> is like
> let except it is guaranteed to evaluate the initialization of its local
> variables in sequentially nested scopes, i.e. it provides an order to the
> binding and visibility of preceding variables.".
> I have included the recursive Common LISP function in which let* block appears
> and a straighforward R port.
> Thank you,
> Gabriel Baud-Bovy
> The let* block appears in the following LISP function:
> (defun infer (goal subsitution kb)
>    (if(null kb)
>      (make-empty-stream)
>      (let* ((assertion (rename-variable (car kb)))    ; *********
>             (match ([...])))
>            (if (equal match 'failed)
>               (infer goal substitutions (cdr kb))
>               (if (rulep assertion)
>                  (combine-streams ([...]) (infer goal substitutions (cdr kb)))
>                  (cons-stream match (infer goal substitutions (cdr kb))))))))
> A straighforward R-translation would be
> infer<-function(goal,subsitution,kb) {
>    if(is.null(kb)) make-empty-stream()
>    else {
>      assertion<-rename-variable(car(kb))
>      match<- [...]
>      if(match=="failed") infer(goal,substitutions,cdr(kb))
>      else  {
>         if(is.rule(assertion))
>            combine-streams( [...], infer(goal,substitutions,cdr(kb))
>         else
>            cons-stream(match,infer(goal,substitutions,cdr(kb))
>      }
>    }
> }
> I ask this question because I sometimes encounter infinite recursion in
> testing my code. I think that the problem might come from differences
> between the Common LISP and R evaluation models.
> --------------------------------------------------------------------
> Gabriel Baud-Bovy
> Faculty of Psychology
> UHSR University
> via Olgettina, 58	tel: (+39) 02 2643 4839
> 20132 Milan, Italy	fax: (+39) 02 2643 4892
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Luke Tierney
University of Iowa                  Phone:             319-335-3386
Department of Statistics and        Fax:               319-335-3017
   Actuarial Science
241 Schaeffer Hall                  email:      luke at stat.uiowa.edu
Iowa City, IA 52242                 WWW:  http://www.stat.uiowa.edu

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