dataplot: NIST 1 million lines of code, since 1978
Mike Fleming has brought together a series of presentations at the Washington
Statistical Society. The theme has been public-domain software, including our
usual friends in statistics and Linux like R (S+ clone), octave (Mathlab
clone), LaTeX. Beyond the packages many of us have heard of, this week James
J. Filliben of the Statistical Engineering Division of the U.S. National
Institute of Standards (NIST) presented software continually developed since
they first introduced it in 1978 (yes, that's 20 years). That software is
Three people work on dataplot full time at NIST. They have 1 million lines of
code in the program, 17 MB of binaries, and 2000 pages of documentation. They
have 70 statistical distributions, probably more than the statistical bastions
SAS, SPSS and BMDP. They contain most every experimental design in Box and
Jenkins. Their software does Exploratory Data Analysis (EDA), time series
analysis, process control, reliability. Their front end is Tcl/Tk and they
have extensive graphics. This program is very popular at NIST.
Why haven't we heard of dataplot? NIST didn't want government software
competing with commercial software. Of course, the bastion SAS was developed
under extensive funding by federal and state governments until someone carted
off with it. Indeed, Robert Morrison at Oklahoma State University still has
the 72,000 IBM cards for SAS. While James Filliben has Unix and Linux
versions of dataplot, he learned this week about RedHat and Debian. Mike
Flemming tells me that the dataplot team is now interested in having a debian
Mike has tried to use the Linux version of dataplot and says he has difficulty
with some libraries on Linux but can run dataplot on a Sun, so forming a
debian package may take a little work. I will give Mike Flemming the address
of the Prospective-Packages maintainer, email@example.com, which Mike will
forward to James Filliben, firstname.lastname@example.org.
dataplot has the web page
Oh, yes, it is "free, public-domain" with some U.S. Government copyright.
NIST has produced a product which best suits its purposes and probably does
not want to use another product, unlike the massive geographical program
"Grass" developed over decades by another US government agency.
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