The JuliaConnectoR: A Functionally-Oriented Interface for Integrating Julia in R

Stefan Lenz, Maren Hackenberg, Harald Binder

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Like many groups considering the new programming language Julia, we faced the challenge of accessing the algorithms that we develop in Julia from R. Therefore, we developed the R package JuliaConnectoR, available from the Comprehensive R Archive Network (CRAN), the official R package repository, and from GitHub (https://github. com/stefan-m-lenz/JuliaConnectoR), in particular for making advanced deep learning tools available. For maintainability and stability, we decided to base communication between R and Julia on the transmission control protocol, using an optimized binary format for exchanging data. Our package also specifically contains features that allow for a convenient interactive use in R. This makes it easy to develop R extensions with Julia or to simply call functionality from Julia packages in R. Interacting with Julia objects and calling Julia functions becomes user-friendly, as Julia functions and variables are made directly available as objects in the R workspace. We illustrate the further features of our package with code examples, and also discuss advantages over the two alternative packages JuliaCall and XRJulia. Finally, we demonstrate the usage of the package with a more extensive example for employing neural ordinary differential equations, a recent deep learning technique that has received much attention. This example also provides more general guidance for integrating deep learning techniques from Julia into R.

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