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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