The number of R packages is growing exponentially

January 6, 2010

(This article was first published on Revolutions, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

The second issue of the R Journal is out now, and in addition to a bevy of contributed articles and some news from the R Core Group on the new help system introduced in R 2.10, there’s an invited section called, intriguingly, "The Future of R". In that section John Fox provides an exhaustively researched and insightful review of the history of the R project, its social structure as an open-source project, and an analysis of why the project succeeded and its prospects for the future. A recommended read. One tiny nugget that caught my eye though, is quantitative evidence for a claim that I’ve made anecdotally for a long time: R is growing exponentially. The proof is in the packages: the chart below shows the number of packages on CRAN for every release since 2001. The Y axis is the number of packages (on a log scale); the X axis is time (annotated by the version number). 

R package growth  

Exponential growth. It’s tailed off very slightly for the last two releases shown (and 2.10 isn’t included, having just been released), but it’s a clear indicator of the growth of the R community that creates and submits the wealth of packages on CRAN. (Update Jan 7: An updated chart is available.)

The R Journal: Aspects of the Social Organization and Trajectory of the R Project

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