[R] Variable passed to function not used in function in select=... in subset

Berwin A Turlach berwin at maths.uwa.edu.au
Tue Nov 11 11:00:03 CET 2008

On Tue, 11 Nov 2008 09:27:41 +0100
Wacek Kusnierczyk <Waclaw.Marcin.Kusnierczyk at idi.ntnu.no> wrote:

> but then it might be worth asking whether carrying on with misdesign
> for backward compatibility outbalances guaranteed crashes in future
> users' programs, [...]

Why is it worth asking this if nobody else asks it?  Most notably a
certain software company in Redmond, Washington, which is famous for
carrying on with bad designs and bugs all in the name of backward
compatibility.  Apparently this company also sets industry standards so
it must be o.k. to do that. ;-)

> which result in confused complaints, 

Didn't see any confused complaints yet.  Only polite requests for
enlightenment after coming across behaviour that useRs found surprising
given their knowledge of R.  The confused complaints seem to be posted
as responses to responses to such question by people who for what ever
reason seem to have an axe to grind with R. 

> the need for responses suggesting hacks to bypass the design, 

Not to bypass the design, but to achieve what the person whats.  As any
programming language, R is a Turing machine and anything can be done
with it; it is just a question how.

> and possibly incorrect results published 

I guess such things cannot be avoided no matter what software you are
using.  I am more worried about all the analysis done in MS Excel, in
particular in the financial maths/stats world.  Also, to me it seems
that getting incorrect results is a relative small problem compared with
the frequent misinterpretation of correct results or the use of
inappropriate statistical techniques.  

> because r is likely to do everything but what the user expects.

This is quite a strong statement, and I wonder what the basis is for
that a statement.  Care to provide any evidence?

R is a tool; a very powerful one and hence also very sharp.  It is easy
to cut yourself with it, but when one knows how to use it gives the
results that one expects.  I guess the problem in this age of instant
gratification is that people are not willing to put in the time and
effort to learn about the tools they are using.  

How about spending some time learning about R instead of continuously
griping about it?  Just imagine how much you could have learned in the
time you spend writing all those e-mails. :)

> r suffers from early made poor decisions, but then this in itself is
> not a good reason to carry on.

Radford Neal is also complaining on his blog
(http://radfordneal.wordpress.com/) about what he thinks are design
flaws in R.  Why don't you two get together and design a good
substitute without any flaws?  Or is that too hard? ;-)



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Berwin A Turlach                            Tel.: +65 6516 4416 (secr)
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