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RE: st: RE: RE: RE: Undocumented limitation of describe (and hence -ds-) in Stata 10?

From   "Nick Cox" <>
To   <>
Subject   RE: st: RE: RE: RE: Undocumented limitation of describe (and hence -ds-) in Stata 10?
Date   Wed, 7 Apr 2010 18:55:39 +0100

I don't worry that much about taxonomy, but 

r(varlist) is, or is equivalent to, a local macro in at least two

1. You define it via -return local-. 

2. You can invoke it via `r(varlist)'. 

It is not a local macro in the sense that -macro list- won't list it.
-return list- will. 

Also, any r-class program will zap all existing r-class results. To zap
a local macro, you have to blank it out explicitly. 

Loosely similar points could be made about e() stuff. 

In Stata, I think the word "function" is best reserved for things so
named in the help for -functions-. Also calling -egen- functions
"functions" was arguably a misleading choice, but there are only so many
words that would fit well.  

Calling all sorts of other things functions -- not least commands, as
often done on this list -- does no great harm, but does not much help
communication either. 

The most congenial terminology is usually that of the software one
happens to know best! 


Michael I. Lichter

Thank you, Nick and Martin. I set myself up for a sucker punch in my 
last message.

Still, even if single quotes can evaluate lots of different kinds of 
things, and r(varlist) is not a local macro kind of thing, what kind of 
thing *is* r(varlist) and what are the rules governing its use? Is it a 
function returning the contents of a macro, or something else? (And what

are the other kinds of returns, like e(b), which acts more like a matrix

than like the contents of a matrix, and yet does not support

Nick, thanks for the tip about your tips book. I do have a copy ... if 
only I could find it ... :(

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