The R Inferno revised

Hell is new and improved.

The R Inferno has been revised.  If you don’t know of it, it is a short explanation of a few trouble spots when using the R language.  Somehow the short explanation grew to approach book-length.

It can be found at the usual place:

Major improvements

  • An index has been added.
  • The table of contents is hyperlinked.


  • Assignment functions with namespace extensions didn’t use to work as you would naively expect, now they do.  The example of
    base::length(w) <- 7
    has been removed (from Circle 7.3).
  • There used to be a way to confuse switch, for example:
    switch('E', A=1, B=2, E=5)
    but recent versions of R have fixed that problem.
  • There is now a length method for POSIXlt date-time objects. The lack of such a method previously was a source of confusion for some people.  Of course there is still the possibility of confusion but now it is more likely to be people programming with the objects that are the victims rather than mere users of the objects.
  • Some additional items and some clarifications of the original items.

If you want the original version for some reason, it is at:


Most of the comments on the first version that I’d been saving were lost.  So if you made a suggestion for a change or addition and you don’t see it, please try again.


Tim Triche, Jr. and Mark Difford are responsible for prodding this revision to completion. Mark did most of the index as well as other changes.


If you have too much money, then you can get rid of some of it by buying a paperback version:

Buy The R Inferno

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7 Responses to The R Inferno revised

  1. Robert Young says:

    — The author thanks D. Alighieri for useful comments.

    One wonders how many readers get this?

  2. abhay says:

    Also pls share the comprehensive list of baiscs statistical method one should know before going for R analysis.
    Also what is name of this GUI tool used for R.
    KIndly share email id of yours for R related query mailings.

    • Pat says:


      I don’t think there can be a list of statistical methods to know before doing an analysis. The best methods will depend on what sort of data you have and what the questions are.

      There are several GUI’s for R. Again the best will depend on where you’ve been and where you want to go. Many of us would encourage you to leave GUI’s behind. RStudio is a nice environment in which to use R.

      StackOverflow is a good place for R questions. There are also several mailing lists to be found on The main one is ‘r-help’.

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