R 3.0 - The Masked Marvel
Written by Kay Ewbank   
Tuesday, 09 April 2013

A major update of the R programming has been released with support for 64-bit integer values on all platforms. The release also pulls together the cumulative updates from the minor releases over the last eight years.

R was created for statistical analysis and graphing, and is popular with statisticians who need to analyze data. It lets you organize data, define complex calculations, and display the results visually. The widespread adoption of R means there are more than 5000 specialised extension packages for R.

The new release has been code-named ‘the Masked Marvel’, and according to a post on the Revolutions blog by David Smith:

“Although many people won’t notice the difference, the introduction of long vectors to R is in fact a significant upgrade, and required a lot of work behind-the-scenes to implement in the core R engine. It will allow data frames to exceed their current 2 billion row limit, and in general allow R to make better use of memory in systems with large amounts of RAM. Many thanks go to the R core team for making this improvement.”

The announcement about the new release on the R-statistics blog lists over 200 improvements, though the Revolutions blog says that the increment in the version number reflects not a fundamental change in the R language itself, but a recognition that the R codebase has matured to a point where closing out the 2.x series makes sense.

Some of the more notable changes include new functions; options controlling how .C() and .Fortran() pass arguments to compiled code; and the ability to use matrix indexing by two-column numeric indices for replacement as well as extraction. The parser has been improved and now supports more detailed computation on the code, such as syntax highlighting and comment-based documentation. Local reference classes have been added to package methods, so you can avoid having to copy large components of objects that you don’t need.  

 

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