Oracle’s strange understanding of R users

After reading David Smith’s tweet on the price of Oracle R Enterprise (actually free, but it requires Oracle Data Mining at $23K/core as pointed out by Joshua Ulrich.) I went to Oracle’s site to see what was all about. Oracle has a very interesting concept of why we use R:

Statisticians and data analysts like R because they typically don’t know SQL and are not familiar with database tasks. R allows them to remain highly productive.

Pardon? It sounds like if we only knew SQL and database tasks we would not need statistical software. File for future reference.

The introduction of a new system

It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to manage, than the creation of a new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit by the preservation of the old institutions and merely lukewarm defenders in those who would gain by the new ones.

—Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince, Chapter 6.

E debbasi considerare, come non è cosa più difficile a trattare, né più dubia a riuscire, né più pericolosa a maneggiare, che farsi capo ad introdurre nuovi ordini; perché lo introduttore ha per nimici tutti quelli che degli ordini vecchi fanno bene, e ha tepidi defensori tutti quelli che delli ordini nuovi farebbono bene.

—Niccolò Machiavelli, Il Principe, Capitolo VI.

I’m a big fan of this quote, because it applies to so many new endeavors including the introduction of new topics in a university curriculum.

Solomon saith

Solomon saith, There is no new thing upon the earth. So that as Plato had an imagination, that all knowledge was but remembrance; so Solomon giveth his sentence, That all novelty is but oblivion.

—Francis Bacon: Essays, LVIII quoted by Jorge Luis Borges in The Immortal (1949).

No one would ever conceive

I believe that no one who is familiar, either with mathematical advances in other fields, or with the range of special biological conditions to be considered, would ever conceive that everything could be summed up in a single mathematical formula, however complex.

— R.A. Fisher (1932) quoted in the preface to Foundations of Mathematical Genetics by A.W.F. Edwards (1976).

On “true” models

Before starting the description of the probability distributions, we want to impose on the reader the essential feature that a model is an interpretation of a real phenomenon that fits its characteristics to some degree of approximation rather than an explanation that would require the model to be “true”. In short, there is no such thing as a “true model”, even though some models are more appropriate than others!

— Jean-Michel Marin and Christian P. Robert in Bayesian Core: a practical approach to computational Bayesian statistics.