Major R language update brings big changes

Major R language update brings big changes

Major R language update brings big changes: R 4.0.0 brings numerous and significant changes to syntax, strings, reference counting, grid units, and more

Version 4.0.0 of the R language for statistical computing has been released, with changes to the syntax of the language as well as features pertaining to error-checking and long vectors.

The upgrade was published on April 24. Source code for R 4.0.0 is accessible at cran.r-project.org. A GNU project, R has gathered steam with the rise of data science and machine learning, currently ranking 10th in the Tiobe Index of language popularity and seventh in the PyPL Popularity of Programming Language index.

Changes and features introduced in R 4.0.0 include:

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  • A new syntax is offered for specifying raw character constants similar to the one used in C++, where r"..." can be used to define a literal string. This makes it easier to write strings containing backslashes or both single and double quotes.
  • The language now uses a stringAsFactors = FALSE default, and thus by default no longer converts strings to factors in calls to data.frame() and read.table(). Many packages relied on the previous behavior and will need updating.
  • The S3 generic function plot() now is in package base rather than package graphics; it is reasonable to have methods that do not use the graphics package. The generic currently is re-exported from the graphics namespace to allow packages importing it from there to keep working, but this could change in the future. Packages that define S4 graphics for plot() should be re-installed and package code using such generics from other packages must ensure they are imported rather than relying on being looked for on the search path.

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