Thursday, June 13, 2013

LCNUG 6/13/13 - R Programming language

The talk today was by Kevin P Davis.  He talked about the things he's learning about R Programming. This programming language was originally created to handle statistics questions and it handles those, and arrays/vectors, quite well.  It also makes it easy to create "publication ready" graphs with a single command.  If the libraries qplot and ggplot2 are included those graphs can be quite interesting.

He walked through an example.  He wanted to know how long a card game "War" can last and also whether having all the aces guaranteed winning... in the very long run.  It turns out that War can last 300,000 rounds and generally takes at least 10,000 to complete.  He also demonstrated showed the graphs drawn from the dataset.

It was a fascinating presentation and raised a number of questions in my mind.  Most seriously, is there a good way to integrate this with a C# application?  Also, is there something that ordinary users can use this, possibly with a drag and drop style interface?

It turns out there are ways to call R functionality from C# through one of several dlls though there are limitations around which version of R the dll references.

On the second question... well, they exist, but at first blush they seem limited and mostly aimed at getting  users familiar with the scripting language.

There are some obvious uses where I'm working.

You can download R here.