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"Let me come right to the point. If you use S at all – either through the S-PLUS commercial software package or its free open software variant, R – get this book. It is a superbly written, indispensable resource to the S language. Whether you merely dabble in S/R (or are contemplating such dabbling) or are a seasoned veteran who uses it extensively, you will find [this book] invaluable…I would be remiss if I did not pay homage to what I consider a most welcome feature of this book: the superb quality of the writing and the remarkable attention to detail by both authors and publisher. V&R write clearly and very concisely; they take great care to explain what needs to be explained, but they do not patronize the reader with trivialities; they use many well chosen examples and code snippets to support their expositions; and they organize and sequence topics logically, and extensively and liberally cross-reference them by page number to help the reader understand how they relate. Finally, V&R frequently take pains to point out lurking software traps and documentation inaccuracies that can plague users. I consider such conscious efforts to mitigate future aggravations for readers a thoughtful courtesy that more software documenters should emulate. I also would like to compliment the publishers on the superb typography and page layout that clearly distinguishes text, code, tables, section headings, and so forth. The editing is also remarkable: I noticed no errors at all! This level of attention to production detail makes the book very easy to either browse or study. I appreciated it very much. In many respects, [this book] could serve as a model for what ought to be the standard in software references. It strikes a careful and effective balance between providing a big picture of the overall language structure and the details necessary to fit the pieces together and make them work…It is written with attention to style and clarity and produced to help the reader grasp the content as easily as possible. Such details matter, and it is a pleasure to give credit where credit is clearly due. S PROGRAMMING should be on every S/R user’s desk next to the computer, and maybe in every software documenter’s library as well."