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July 1st, 2015

R, Matey: Hoisting the Sails for a Programming Language

One of the several privileges of fatherhood — maybe it’s a duty, I’ll have to check — is that you have opportunities to torture your children with bad jokes. I am proud to say I have not failed in my parental role in that endeavor — ask my daughter — and whenever the letter R comes up, it is usually quick to be followed by a pirate reference. The R programming language, which runs on a variety of platforms and architectures, is no exception.

R programming language logo

So, what’s a pirate’s favorite programming…oh, never mind.

Jokes like this, in your best pirate voice: Avast, matey, what be a pirate’s favorite programmin’ language?

R (of course, you have to extend it out, like “Arrrrrrrrrrrr” or it won’t make sense).

In any case, our friends at the Linux Foundation yesterday set sail with the formation of the R Consortium, which includes such notorious pirates…um, I mean, notable companies as Oracle, Hewlett-Packard, Google and Microsoft, along with the other founders like Alteryx, Mango Solutions, Tibco Software, and we won’t be sailin’ without our mateys at, wait for it, RStudio.

[Of course, when you read that last one, you read it as Arrrrrr Studio, right? Right?]

So what is R? The R programming language is a free and open source programming language for statistical computing and provides an interactive environment for data analysis, modeling and visualization. The language is used by statisticians, analysts and data scientists to unlock value from data.

Datanami reports that the R Consortium said the R language currently supports more than 2 million users “as industries such as biotechnology, financial services and academic researchers embrace the open source framework for statistical computing and graphics.”

According to the Linux Foundation, the R Consortium will complement the work of the R Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Austria that maintains the language. The R Consortium will focus on user outreach and other projects designed to assist the R user and developer communities.

“Millions of data scientists and academic researchers use R language every day and want to collaborate with their peers to share visualization and analysis techniques,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director at The Linux Foundation. “The R Consortium will promote the sharing of ideas and accelerate findings that make R even better for business, research and academic purposes.”

So it seems there’s buried treasure in R, and the Linux Foundation had the foresight to gather this group together to have them all sailing in the same direction. We’ll keep an eye — the one without an eyepatch — on this one and keep you abreast of developments.

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Larry Cafiero, a.k.a. Larry the Free Software Guy, is a journalist and a Free/Open Source Software advocate. He is involved in several FOSS projects and serves as the publicity chair for the Southern California Linux Expo. Follow him on Twitter: @lcafiero

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