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September 30, 2015

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Just FYI - that isn't at all what repr does.

When you embed R inside another language or whatever, you need a way to talk to R and get results back. Usually the way you do that is by opening a network socket (on the same machine) from R to whatever it's talking to. That's how Jupyter works too. So you tell R to do things by writing commands to the socket and then sending the "enter" code (im simpifying). But how do you get the result back?

If the result from R is just some text it's easy you can just read from the socket.

If its anything else, it has to be converted into a byte representation so it can be sent through the socket and decoded.

That's what repr does. It's not a graphics device. It's a way of encoding non-textual R data in a form that can be transmitted through a socket and decoded.

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