Articles by Derek Jones

subset vs array indexing: which will cause the least grief in R?

January 3, 2016 | Derek Jones

The comments on my post outlining recommended R usage for professional developers were universally scornful, with my proposal recommending subset receiving the greatest wrath. The main argument against using subset appeared to be that it went against existing practice, one comment linked to Hadley Wickham suggesting it was useful in ... [Read more...]

R recommended usage for professional developers

December 29, 2015 | Derek Jones

R is not one of those languages where there is only one way of doing something, the language is blessed/cursed with lots of ways of doing the same thing. Teaching R to professional developers is easy in the sense that their fluency with other languages will enable them to ... [Read more...]

Extracting the original data from a heatmap image

March 4, 2015 | Derek Jones

The paper Analysis of the Linux Kernel Evolution Using Code Clone Coverage analysed 136 versions of Linux (from 1.0 to 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 ... [Read more...]

XSLT, yacc and Yorick

December 23, 2014 | Derek Jones

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 ... [Read more...]

Ratfor, R, RUNOFF, RPG and Ruby

December 17, 2014 | Derek Jones

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 ... [Read more...]

A book about some important bits of R

September 27, 2014 | Derek Jones

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 ... [Read more...]

An ISO Standard for R (just kidding)

July 24, 2014 | Derek Jones

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’ ... [Read more...]

Oh, I did not know that [about R]

May 20, 2014 | Derek Jones

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 ... [Read more...]

Hack, a template for improving code reliability

March 24, 2014 | Derek Jones

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 ... [Read more...]

Performing a non-local return in R

February 23, 2014 | Derek Jones

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)+... [Read more...]

Ordinary Least Squares is dead to me

November 28, 2013 | Derek Jones

Most books that discuss regression modeling start out and often finish with Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) as the technique to use; Generalized Least Squares (GLS) sometimes get a mention near the back. This is all well and good if the readers’ data has the characteristics required for OLS to be ... [Read more...]

R now has its own shelf in Dillons

November 24, 2013 | Derek Jones

I was in Dillons, the one opposite University College London, at the start of the week and what did I spy there? There is now a bookshelf devoted to R (right, second from top) in the programming languages section. The shelf would be a lot fuller if O’Reilly did ... [Read more...]
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