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What does it mean to write “vectorized” code in R?

One often hears that R can not be fast (false), or more correctly that for fast code in R you may have to consider “vectorizing.”

A lot of knowledgable R users are not comfortable with the term “vectorize”, and not really familiar with the method.

“Vectorize” is just a slightly high-handed way of saying:

R naturally stores data in columns (or in column major order), so if you are not coding to that pattern you are fighting the language.

In this article we will make the above clear by working through a non-trivial example of writing vectorized code.

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