Blog Archives

R’s plot function, the 1970′s retro look is not cool any more

April 22, 2015
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Casual users of a system want to learn a few simple rules that enable them to get most things done. Many languages have a design principle of only providing one way of doing things. Members of one language family are known for providing umpteen different ways of doing something and R is no exception. R

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Extracting the original data from a heatmap image

March 4, 2015
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Extracting the original data from a heatmap image

The paper Analysis of the Linux Kernel Evolution Using Code Clone Coverage analysed 136 versions of Linux (from 1.0 to 2.6.18.3) and calculated the amount of source code that was shared, going forward, between each pair of these versions. When I saw the heatmap at the end of the paper (see below) I knew it

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XSLT, yacc and Yorick

December 23, 2014
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XSLT, yacc and Yorick

X and Y are for XSLT, yacc and Yorick. XSLT is the tree climbing Kangaroo of the programming language world. Eating your own dog food is good practice for implementors, but users should not be forced to endure it. Anyway, people only use XML, rather than JSON, to increase the size of their files so

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Ratfor, R, RUNOFF, RPG and Ruby

December 17, 2014
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R is for Ratfor, R, RUNOFF, RPG and Ruby Ratfor is a structured form of Fortran from the days when structured programming was the in-thing and Fortran did not have much of it (lots got added in later revisions). I think its success came from allowing users to claim a degree of respectability that Fortran

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A book about some important bits of R

September 27, 2014
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I see that Hadley Wickham’s new book, “Advanced R”, is being published in dead tree form and will be available a month or so. Hadley has generously made the material available online; I quickly skimmed the material a few months ago when I first heard about it and had another skim this afternoon. The main

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Creating a map showing land covered by rising sea levels

September 15, 2014
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I joined the Geekli.st climate Hackathon this weekend at the Hub Westminster (my favorite venue for Hackathons). While the organizers had lots of enthusiasm they had very little in the way of data for us to work on. No problem, ever since the Flood-relief hackathon I have wanted to use the SRTM ‘whole Earth’ elevation

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An ISO Standard for R (just kidding)

July 24, 2014
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IST/5, the British Standards’ committee responsible for programming languages in the UK, has a new(ish) committee secretary and like all people in a new role wants to see a vision of the future; IST/5 members have been emailed asking us what we see happening in the programming language standards’ world over the next 12 months.

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Oh, I did not know that [about R]

May 20, 2014
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I recently saw a post about something called ValidR and as somebody with a long standing professional interest in language validation immediately read the article and referenced links. I was disappointed to find that what was being validated was the installation, not the behavior of the implementation. In the context of what I understand ValidR’s

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Hack, a template for improving code reliability

March 24, 2014
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My sole prediction for 2014 has come true, Facebook have announced the Hack language (if you don’t know that HHVM is the Hip Hop Virtual Machine you are obviously not a trendy developer). This language does not follow the usual trend in that it looks useful, rather than being fashion fluff for corporate developers to

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By now I ought to feel more knowledgeable about R

March 18, 2014
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I was surprised to find recently that there are now over 15,000 lines of R code in the book I am working on. If I had written that much code in another ‘newly’ acquired language I would probably feel a lot more knowledgeable about it than I currently feel about R. Why don’t I feel

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