Not trying to start a flame war, but I've spent several weeks playing with R and found it extemely painful. Not the fault of the R developers - I just found the underlying language, S, very badly designed. Why on earth use underscore as an assignment operator? The object system of S is just complicated enough that even many examples I've seen in package documentation spend an inordinate amount of time casting between types 'matrix', 'array','list' and what not - all for the same bunch of data! Yet I could not discover a way of defining custom implicit type conversions, the way you can in C++.In short, if you want an environment to play with data - don't waste your time on R, buy matlab, it's not that expensive and (at least in the areas that I looked at) a superset of R functionality - e.g. does R have a debugger?The large numbers of R and S+ users out there show that your mileage may vary, but that has been my experience.