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.


Barry Rowlingson 2012/02/10 Reply


Database professionals like SQL because they typically don’t know R and are not familiar with a real programming language. SQL allows them to remain highly paid.

Robert Young 2012/02/10 Reply

Disgruntled coder?

human mathematics 2012/02/10 Reply

Of course, all you have to do compute the variance in SQL is figure out how to do this:

SELECT POW( SUM( POW( data, 2) – AVERAGE(data) ), .5) / COUNT(data) AS variance

See how easy it was???

Luis 2012/02/10 Reply

Wow, there is a variance function and one can even run a STATS_ONE_WAY_ANOVA!. And how come that Colmenares gets such a crummy salary?

Robert Young 2012/02/11

Which is not to say that I’d rather use a database’s SQL variant of stats, just to be clear.

Robert Young 2012/02/10 Reply

Fact is, SQL standard has been adding ever more stat functions with each version. Their implementation is not uniform across engines, however. For those who want to mix the two most tutorials (usually early on) draw the parallel between data.frame and relational table. Merge is just a kludgy join. And so on.

Then, there’s my beloved PL/R. If only it ran on DB2. I’ll need to look some more at this Oracle/R marriage. First announcements were ambiguous; is it PL/R for Oracle, or just another R driver for Oracle.

Tom 2012/02/10 Reply

Nobody’s going to jump on the brash comparison between R and Excel?!

Alan 2012/02/16 Reply

Can Oracle generate directly the kinds of graphs that R can produce or is that an extra cost ?

Robert Young 2012/02/17 Reply

Depends on how you measure “directly” and “extra cost”. If you follow the original link back to the Oracle page, you’ll find that R support is “free”, but requires a non-vanilla version of Oracle. Part of the support includes the ability to run R in Oracle similarly to what PL/R does in Postgres; so the answer is “sort of”. That said, the emphasis is on using Oracle within R, for various benefits.

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