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September 09, 2010

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I would frame it as What has R learned from other programming languages. For example, I remember first being drawn to Python (around 1997) by the sheer number of libraries available. Many other successful languages and systems have also encouraged the creation and sharing of libraries.

It may be that R is the first example amongst statistical languages, but there are plenty of pre-existing examples in other more general languages, including the ability of adding 'packages' from a centralized system. The nice thing in R is that for many systems is just a menu item away.

That looks geometric to me, not exponential. And really linear in the last few years.

It's also worth looking at the number of packages under active maintenance. That's a lot smaller!

(Of course, R is definitely growing, and I'm a fan, but this graph is rather misleading!)

@Harlan: I was going off this (older) analysis from John Fox; on a log-log scale the chart is pretty close to linear. Also, check out John's paper in the R Journal for details on the methodology.

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