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## Re: Octave advocacy

**From**: |
Mike Miller |

**Subject**: |
Re: Octave advocacy |

**Date**: |
Fri, 17 Sep 2004 00:16:56 -0500 (CDT) |

On Thu, 16 Sep 2004, John W. Eaton wrote:

The following message was posted to sci.math.num-analysis today.
From: rif <address@hidden>

This is Rif: http://five-percent-nation.mit.edu/PersonalPages/rif/

Subject: Re: best software environment for numerical analysis
Newsgroups: sci.math.num-analysis
Date: 16 Sep 2004 14:42:23 -0400
Organization: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
I prefer R, which is the successor of S.

`It's not "the successor of S." It is an open-source language and
``environment that was designed to work very much like S or S-Plus.
`

`It's free (beer and freedom), has much better graphics than Octave, has
``a good high-level control language, and has a huge array of software
``available.
`

`I do like R graphics. Apparently, the graphics routines are built into R
``and R does not call gnuplot. Octave has "a huge array of software"
``available too.
`

`It was designed with statistics in mind, but is extremely useful for a
``wide range of numerical tasks.
`

`I prefer Octave for my numerical work, but maybe that is partly because I
``*know* Octave much better than I know R. I'll tell you one thing. I can
``do things like this in Octave...
`
echo 'sqrt(29)' | octave -q

`...and more elaborate things, and I do so dozens of times per day. I
``don't know if R can do that kind of thing for me.
`

`(IMO, the only time Octave is really a good choice is if you have to run
``existing Matlab, and even then, it rarely works, as Octave is missing
``many of Matlab's features.)
`

`I can't respond to that except by saying that it doesn't match my
``experience, not at all.
`

`R and Octave are being used by different groups of people. R is designed
``for statistical analysis and it is being used very heavily by
``statisticians. Octave seems to be favored by engineers and some physical
``scientists. I expect that there are many more people using one or the
``other of the two programs, but not as many people use both. It's funny
``what happens next. People who use primarily one of the two will become
``quite certain that the program they use is superior in particular ways to
``the one they do not use, but this is only because they don't know the
``features of the other program! I see this frequently with emacs v. vi or
``with bash v. tcsh.
`

`For me, the world is best with both R and Octave. I intend to make more
``use of R in the coming months and I recently bought the GNU manuals for R
``and Octave on Amazon.com. I am encouraging students to learn R and to
``avoid SAS. I just got back from a scientific meeting (genetic
``epidemiology) where I presented results of work done in Octave. Octave
``performed amazingly well on my PC under Cygwin - everyone was very
``impressed with the speed with which it performed my simulations. It
``really surprised me though I use it all the time.
`
Mike
--
Michael B. Miller, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Division of Epidemiology and Community Health
and Institute of Human Genetics
University of Minnesota
http://taxa.epi.umn.edu/~mbmiller/
-------------------------------------------------------------
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