Blog Archives

XSLT, yacc and Yorick

December 23, 2014
By
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

Read more »

Ratfor, R, RUNOFF, RPG and Ruby

December 17, 2014
By

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

Read more »

A book about some important bits of R

September 27, 2014
By

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

Read more »

Creating a map showing land covered by rising sea levels

September 15, 2014
By

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

Read more »

An ISO Standard for R (just kidding)

July 24, 2014
By

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.

Read more »

Oh, I did not know that [about R]

May 20, 2014
By

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

Read more »

Hack, a template for improving code reliability

March 24, 2014
By

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

Read more »

By now I ought to feel more knowledgeable about R

March 18, 2014
By

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

Read more »

Performing a non-local return in R

February 23, 2014
By
Performing a non-local return in R

In most languages return is a statement, but in R it is a function (in fact R does not really have statements, it only has expressions). This function-like behavior of return is useful for figuring out the order in which operations are performed, e.g., the value returned by return(1)+return(2) tells us that binary operators are

Read more »

Converting graphs in pdf files to csv format

December 19, 2013
By
Converting graphs in pdf files to csv format

Looking at a graph displayed as part of a pdf document is so tantalizing; I want that data as a csv! One way to get the data is to email the author(s) and ask for it. I do this regularly and sometimes get the apologetic reply that the data is confidential. But I can see

Read more »