Are You Using R?

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It seems appropriate on Ada Lovelace Day to note the move of one of the best-known female champions of open source from Intel to the startup REvolution:

Danese Cooper, who spent more than three years as senior director of Intel's open-source strategies, has taken a similar job at Revolution Computing, a start-up that's commercializing the open-source R programming technology for data analysis.

Cooper, who took on the title of open-source diva at Sun Microsystems before her stint at Intel, plans to help Revolution expand its current community of developers and users to a broader group, she said in an interview. For example, she'll work on better user groups and new assets to help the community.

Word about R is rapidly spreading, not least thanks to a feature on the subject in the New York Times recently:

Some people familiar with R describe it as a supercharged version of Microsoft’s Excel spreadsheet software that can help illuminate data trends more clearly than is possible by entering information into rows and columns.

What makes R so useful — and helps explain its quick acceptance — is that statisticians, engineers and scientists can improve the software’s code or write variations for specific tasks. Packages written for R add advanced algorithms, colored and textured graphs and mining techniques to dig deeper into databases.

Close to 1,600 different packages reside on just one of the many Web sites devoted to R, and the number of packages has grown exponentially.

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