R : A History And Overview

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R: A History and Overview The idea for R was first conceived in the early 1990’s by Ross Ihaka and Robert Gentleman, two professors at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. Although Ihaka had contemplated the idea of developing a programming language before meeting Gentleman. He references a book entitled The Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs as one inspiration that led to R. The book was meant to teach programming to engineering students through Scheme. The book provided a practical and interesting approach to programming. It also demonstrated the implementation process of a language like Scheme. In addition to this book, Ihaka had also been inspired by S, a statistical programming language developed at Bell Laboratories. He’d once needed to demonstrate a rule concerning lexical scope to a peer and used S in lieu of Scheme. He was surprised to see that the demonstration didn’t work due to S’s scoping differences. This caused him to begin thinking of major improvements on S that could lead to a better statistical programming language. It was with this inspiration that Ihaka started collaboration with Gentleman on developing a new language. Since they were both statisticians, they sought to create a statistical language that could aid in their introductory courses. More generally, they wanted to create a language that operated in the same way a statistical analyst would think. By 1994, they had completed their first version of their new
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