Toby Dylan Hocking edited this page Feb 9, 2015 · 1 revision

ID: rproject

Name: R Project for Statistical Computing

Description: The R Foundation (as the legal entity behind the R Project) is a not-for-profit organization working in the public interest. It has been founded by the members of the R Development Core Team in order to

  • Provide support for the R project and other innovations in statistical computing. We believe that R has become a mature and valuable tool and we would like to ensure its continued development and the development of future innovations in software for statistical and computational research.
  • Provide a reference point for individuals, instititutions or commercial enterprises that want to support or interact with the R development community.
  • Hold and administer the copyright of R software and documentation.

R is an official part of the Free Software Foundation’s GNU project, and the R Foundation has similar goals to other open source software foundations like the Apache Foundation or the GNOME Foundation. Among the goals of the R Foundation are the support of continued development of R, the exploration of new methodology, teaching and training of statistical computing and the organization of meetings and conferences with a statistical computing orientation.

Tags: data, statistics, rstats, r, visualization

Main organization license: GPL (generally version 2).

Ideas list:

Mailing list:

Organization website:

Blog page:

If you did not choose “veteran” in the checkbox, have you applied in the past? If so, for what year(s)?

We have had up to 18 students each year for GSoC 2008-2014. Totals from recent years are (data from melange)

Year Students Failures
2014 17 0
2013 18 0
2012 16 1
2011 14 1

If you chose “veteran” in the checkbox, please summarize your involvement in Google Summer of Code and the successes and challenges of your participation. Please also list your pass/fail rate for each year.

Our experience from 2011 is described in “R’s Participation in the Google Summer of Code 2011,” an R Journal article by Claudia Beleites and John C. Nash, the 2011 admins.

Out of 65 students total across 2011-2014, we have passed all students except two. We have had numerous successes in writing and improving R packages, and creating new web tools for the R community. Our challenges are that some students produced code that did not advance the state of the art of R, or they dropped out. In recent years, we have used multiple mentors per project to help ensure that each student passes. From the Mentors’ Summit, this appears to be more or less similar to the experience of other projects.

Why is your organization applying to participate in Google Summer of Code 2015? What do you hope to gain by participating?

R is a large and complex software ecosystem involving a base system, several thousand add-on packages and a number of tools and information channels, mostly web-based. We expect to develop some R packages and enhance R’s web presence, as we have done in previous years with GSOC.

How many potential mentors do you have for this year’s program? What criteria did you use to select them?

The number of mentors will probably be the same as in previous years, between 20 and 40 depending on how many project proposals are submitted. Mentors are selected based on their involvement with R packages or projects. The interested R package developers set up project ideas on our wiki project page. Then, we reach out to the larger R community using the r-help list or One example from this year is Gergely Daróczi, who has been a mentor in the past and has already written another project proposal for this year

What is your plan for dealing with disappearing students?

We plan on getting several different types of contact info for each student, and suggesting that mentors hold weekly meetings with each student. If students do not communicate regularly, they will be dropped/failed. Note that this strategy has worked well in previous years.

What is your plan for dealing with disappearing mentors?

For GSOC 2011 we had a mentor that disappeared for several weeks while he was changing jobs and moving. To deal with issues like this we required 2 or more mentors for each project in 2012. There were a number of cases in 2012 where the ‘primary’ mentor ended up really being secondary on the project. In these cases, the primary mentor did not disappear but in fact the secondary proved to more easily mentor and further the project goals. We intend to continue the multiple-mentors-required policy this year, and will not approve projects that we don’t believe have a strong mentoring support team.

What steps will you take to encourage students to interact with your project’s community before and during the program?

We hope that students applying are already involved with R through our many mailing lists, R User Groups, college or university courses that involve R, the UseR! conferences, and R-bloggers. We encourage them to stay involved through these activities. In the past, some former GSOC students (e.g. Ian Fellows, Susan VanderPlas) have even returned in subsequent years to become GSOC mentors. Yixuan Qiu in the 2011 GSOC had already set up an R user group at his home institution in Beijing.

What will you do to encourage your accepted students to stick with the project after Google Summer of Code concludes?

R has many packages, and volunteer developers move among these from time to time. We would be happy to have students stay with the overall R family rather than insist they stick with the particular GSoC project they carry out this summer. After a GSoC project is finished, we must depend on the value of membership in the R community to keep students involved. However, we must recognize that many of them are still exploring the areas in which they wish to make their careers, and that a decision to choose other directions is not a vote against GSoC or R. R has had many significant successes in GSoC R project students who have become prominent members of sub-communities in the R ecosystem such as crystallography, bio-statistics, Rcpp, and finance. We hope to continue to provide opportunities for students to grow their presence in the R community over time.

Are you an established or larger organization who would like to vouch for a new organization applying this year? If so, please list their name(s) here.

Yes! I have encouraged my bioinformatics colleagues Mathieu Bourgey and Louis Letourneau to submit a GSOC application to develop open-source software that supports their big genomic data analyses. Their organization is called “McGill University and Genomic Québec Innovation Center” and will probably use the link_id = mugqic

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