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In the sponsored article Data Science: Buyer Beware at Forbes, SAP's Ray Rivera takes a dim view of Data Science. According to Rivera, Data Science is a "management fad" in the mold of Business Process Reengineering, and casts data scentists as self-ordained "gurus" whose mission is to stand between the "ignorant masses" that need access to data and a company's valuable data stores.

This video tour of the International Space Station from NASA commander Sunny Williams (via Andrew Sullivan) is just amazing:

 

It's hard to overstate the importance of functions in the R language. Pretty much everything you do in R involves calling a function. From creating objects, to doing calculations, to creating plots and fitting statistical models, everything is done by calling a function. In fact, the first R command you probably ever ran:

In case you missed them, here are some articles from December of particular interest to R users.

The blog is.R ran an excellent series of R tips and applications in December, with posts including working with Stata files, working with graphs and networks, and text analysis.

In a recent interview with DataInformed's Ian Murphy, I discussed the history of the open-source R project and how Revolution Analytics is building on R to compete with legacy statistical software such as SAS and SPSS.

We've written before about how you can use the Rcpp package to speed up R, by converting performance-critical snippets of R code to C++.

It's been a little while since we've rounded up the new local R user groups around the world, so here are the latest ones on the scene:

451 Research analyst Matt Aslett created this Database Landscape Map:

Wolfram's Mathematica is the lastest software to add a connection to R, joining a long list of applications providing R access to their users. Mathematica 9 will use a Java-based link allow users to exchange data between Mathematica and R and to execute R code from within Mathematica.

O'Reilly's Edd Dumbill observes that with the ubiquity of powerful computers now tied into all levels our daily lives, programming is getting dangerous: today's programmers are "like ambitious waiters stacking one teacup on top of the other". His prescription? All programmers will have to adopt programming paradigms that have previously been the domain of specialists: distributed computing, device computing, democratized computing and data computing: