Sat, 31 May 2008

Accelerated R in Debian

A few months ago, Stephen Milborrow started releasing a patched version of R that performs just-in-time compilation -- see his Ra page for some details and further pointers.

In a nutshell, Ra provides a modified R engine so that code preceded by all jit(1) function call, using his jit package from the CRAN archive, will run faster due to just-in-time compilation of loops and arithmetic expressions.

Ra offers to pick the low-hanging fruit for users as loops can be a bottleneck. Of course, as shown in Stephen's case study, using appropriate vectorised expression will often be faster still. That said, for a certain class of problems, Ra should offer a decent speed boost.

Debian users can now just say

    sudo apt-get install r-base-core-ra r-cran-jit
as the Ra and jit packages in Debian's unstable distribution (and in the case of jit, even in testing).

Lastly, version 1.1.0 of Ra was released by Stephen yesterday and is now also in Debian unstable.

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