Rcpp 0.8.3

June 29, 2010

(This article was first published on Thinking inside the box , and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

A new version 0.8.3 of
is now CRAN and in

It comes about three weeks after the
release. And even though we
promised to
concentrate on documentation
, it contains a raft of new features:

  • The addition of what we dub Rcpp sugar: some syntactic sugar
    based on clever use of expression templates
    that lets us write C++ expression as neatly and compactly as vectorised R expressions
    (while getting C++ speed!!). More on that below.
  • New classes Date and Datetime with internal representations just like
    R’s Date and POSIXct classes, plus vector versions DateVector and
    DatetimeVector which behave just like STL vectors. With that, the new API
    is now feature-complete compared to the older ‘classic’ API.
  • Rcpp Modules (our ‘not unlike Boost::Python’ feature introduced in
    version 0.8.1)
    can now expose public data members
  • A new API class InternalFunction which can expose C++ functions
    even without R modules.

The main thing here is Rcpp sugar for which we also have a new
(seventh !!) vignette
As a quick example, consider this simple C++ function that takes two vectors
from R and creates a new one conditional on the relative values:

export "C" SEXP foo( SEXP xs, SEXP ys) {
    Rcpp::NumericVector x(xs), y(ys);
    int n = x.size();
    Rcpp::NumericVector res( n );
    double xd = 0.0, yd = 0.0 ;
    for( int i=0; i<n; i++){
        xd = x[i];
        yd = y[i];
        if( xd < yd ){
            res[i] = xd * xd ;
        } else {
            res[i] = -( yd * yd);
    return res ;

Now, if you use R, you really want to writes this more compactly. And now you
can, thanks to Rcpp sugar:

extern "C" SEXP foo( SEXP xs, SEXP ys){
    Rcpp::NumericVector x(xs), y(xs);
    return ifelse( x < y, x*x, -(y*y));

Same great taste, but much less filling! More details are in the
Rcpp-sugar vignette.
Doug Bates is already a fan of this and is employing it in the
lme4a development
version of the well-known
lme4 package.

The full NEWS entry for this release follows below:

0.8.3   2010-06-27

    o	This release adds Rcpp sugar which brings (a subset of) the R syntax
        into C++. This supports : 
         - binary operators : <,>,<=,>=,==,!= between R vectors
         - arithmetic operators: +,-,*,/ between compatible R vectors
         - several functions that are similar to the R function of the same name:
        abs, all, any, ceiling, diff, exp, ifelse, is_na, lapply, pmin, pmax, 
        pow, sapply, seq_along, seq_len, sign
        Simple examples :
          // two numeric vector of the same size
          NumericVector x ;
          NumericVector y ;
          NumericVector res = ifelse( x < y, x*x, -(y*y) ) ;
          // sapply'ing a C++ function
          double square( double x ){ return x*x ; }
          NumericVector res = sapply( x, square ) ;
        Rcpp sugar uses the technique of expression templates, pioneered by the 
        Blitz++ library and used in many libraries (Boost::uBlas, Armadillo). 
        Expression templates allow lazy evaluation of expressions, which 
        coupled with inlining generates very efficient code, very closely 
        approaching the performance of hand written loop code, and often
        much more efficient than the equivalent (vectorized) R code.
        Rcpp sugar is curently limited to vectors, future releases will 
        include support for matrices with sugar functions such as outer, etc ...
        Rcpp sugar is documented in the Rcpp-sugar vignette, which contains
        implementation details.

    o   New helper function so that "Rcpp?something" brings up Rcpp help

    o   Rcpp Modules can now expose public data members

    o   New classes Date, Datetime, DateVector and DatetimeVector with proper
        'new' API integration such as as(), wrap(), iterators, ...

    o   The so-called classic API headers have been moved to a subdirectory
        classic/ This should not affect client-code as only Rcpp.h was ever

    o   RcppDate now has a constructor from SEXP as well

    o   RcppDateVector and RcppDatetimeVector get constructors from int
        and both const / non-const operator(int i) functions
    o   New API class Rcpp::InternalFunction that can expose C++ functions
    	to R without modules. The function is exposed as an S4 object of 
    	class C++Function

As always, even fuller details are in
Rcpp Changelog page and the
Rcpp page which also
leads to the downloads, the
doxygen docs
and zip files of doxygen output for the standard formats.
A local directory has
source and documentation too.
Questions, comments etc should go to the
rcpp-devel mailing list
off the R-Forge page

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