Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Calling NAG routines from R

R is a widely-used environment for statistical computing and data analysis. It is one of the modern implementations of the S programming language (i.e. much code written in S will run unaltered in R) although its underlying semantics are derived from Scheme. R is Free Software.

The capabilities of R can be extended through the use of add-on packages and a large number of these are available from the Comprehensive R Archive Network (CRAN). Some users have expressed an interest in calling NAG Library routines from within R; accordingly, we have recently created a package which provides access to some of NAG's numerical functionality. More specifically, the NAGFWrappers R package contains the local and global optimization chapters of the NAG Fortran Library, together with a few nearest correlation matrix solvers and some other simpler routines. The package incorporates documentation in the so-called Rdoc style that will automatically produce help pages within the R system (see figure below), and also in HTML and PDF - for example, here is the full list of NAG routines that are contained in the package.

For completeness, and to help R users further, we have also published more general instructions about how to use the R extension mechanisms to access any NAG routine from within R.

The original version of NAGFWrappers has been available since mid-2011; we have just updated it to use Mark 23 of the Fortran Library, and are releasing R binary packages for Windows 32 bit and Windows 64 bit, along with the R source package which can be used on other platforms (for example, we have built and run it on 64 bit Linux).

It should perhaps be noted that this is a preview release of the package, which is aimed at obtaining user feedback. Although it has been built and run on the platforms mentioned above, it is not a NAG product. We are keen to receive user feedback, and will respond to technical queries and problem reports via so that we can further refine this package and make it still more useful to the R community.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

SC11 diary catch up

I posted here a week or two ago about my diary leading up to the year's biggest supercomputing event - SC11 in Seattle. I though it would be handy to give a quick summary of the diary entries so far for those who haven't been reading along.

If you recall, I said: "On my twitter stream (@hpcnotes), I described it as: "the world of #HPC in one week & one place but hard to find time for all of technical program + exhibition + customer/partner/supplier meetings + social meetings + sleep!" To follow the news about SC11 on twitter, follow @supercomputing and/or the #SC11 hashtag."

"Any hope of "live" blogging or actively tweeting during the week of SC11 itself is almost nil - the week is just too busy with the day job. Even simply consuming the relevant news, comment and gossip is a challenge."

"So instead I am going to try to write a diary of the lead up to SC11."

If you've missed them, here are the 8 SC11 blogs so far:

  1. "The big HPC event of the year - lots of news, people & meetings. Busy week."
  2. "schedule certainty, locations, spare time & hard work"
  3. "SC11 news deluge, the missing HPC world"
  4. "how do you do it?"
  5. "navigation, rope and choosing wisely"
  6. "fog and sports events"
  7. "not everyone will be in Seattle"
  8. "ppt, professionals, preparation & precipitation"
Along the way, I have briefly alluded to a few things NAG will be doing at SC11. One of my colleagues will be along shortly to post here about our activities at SC11, but in the meantime, plan to visit us on booth 2622, or get in touch to arrange a conversation.