File: TODO

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Immediate TODO list
-------------------

- Bug fix: Combining RangedData objects is currently broken (IRanges 1.9.20):
    library(IRanges)
    ranges <- IRanges(c(1,2,3),c(4,5,6))
    rd1 <- RangedData(ranges)
    rd2 <- RangedData(shift(ranges, 100))
    rd <- c(rd1, rd2)  # Seems to work (with some warnings)...
    validObject(rd)  # but returns an invalid object!

- Herve: Make the MaskCollection class a derivative of the SimpleIRangesList
  class.

- Herve: Use a different name for "reverse" method for IRanges and
  MaskCollection objects. Seems like, for IRanges objects, reverse()
  and reflect() are doing the same thing, so I should just keep (and
  eventually adapt) the latter. Also, I should add a "reflect"
  method for SimpleIRangesList objects that would do what the current
  "reverse" method for MaskCollection objects does.
  Once this is done, adapt R/reverse.R file in Biostrings to use reflect()
  instead of reverse() wherever needed.

- Clean up endomorphisms.


Long term TODO list
-------------------

o RangesList:
  - parallel rbind
  - binary ops: "nearest", "intersect", "setdiff", "union"
    - 'y' omitted: become n-ary ops on items in collection
    - 'y' specified: performed element-wise
  - unary ops: "coverage" etc are vectorized
    
o DataTable:
  - group generics (Math, Ops, Summary)
  
o SplitDataFrameList:
  - rbind

o IO:
  - xscan() - read data directly into XVector objects


-------------------------------------
Conceptual framework (by Michael)
-------------------------------------

Basic problem: We have lots of (long) data series and need a way to
efficiently represent and manipulate them.

A series is a vector, except that the positions of the elements are
meaningful. That is, we often expect strong auto-correlation. We have
an abstraction called "Vector" for representing these series.

There are currently two optimized means of storing long series:

1) Externally, currently only in memory, in XVector derivatives.
The main benefit here is avoiding unnecessary copying, though there
is potential for vectors stored in databases and flat files on disk
(but this is outside our use case).

2) Run-length encoding (Rle class). This is a classic means of
compressing discrete-valued series. It is very efficient, as long as
there are long runs of equal value.

Rle, so far, is far ahead of XVector in terms of direct
usefulness. If XVector were implemented with an environment, rather
than an external pointer, adding functionality would be easier. Could
carry some things over from externalVector.

As the sequence of observations in a series is important, we often
want to manipulate specific regions of the series. We can use the
window() function to select a particular region from a Vector, and a
logical Rle can represent a selection of multiple regions. A slightly
more general representation, that supports overlapping regions, is the
IntegerRanges class.

An IntegerRanges object holds any number of start,width pairs that describe
closed intervals representing the set of integers that fall within the
endpoints. The primary implementation is IRanges, which stores the
information as two integer vectors.

Often the endpoints of the intervals are interesting independent of
the underlying sequence. Many utilities are implemented for
manipulating and analyzing IntegerRanges. These include:

1) overlap detection
2) nearest neighbors: precede, follow, nearest
3) set operations: (p)union, (p)intersect, (p)setdiff, gaps
4) coverage, too bio specific? rename to 'table'?
5) resolving overlap: reduce and (soon) collapse
6) transformations: flank, reflect, restrict, narrow...
7) (soon) mapping/alignment

There are two ways to explicitly pair an IntegerRanges object with a
Vector:

1) Masking, as in MaskedXString, where only the elements outside of
the IntegerRanges are considered by an operation.

2) Views, which are essentially lists of subsequences. This
relies in the fly-weight pattern for efficiency. Several fast paths,
like viewSums and viewMaxs, are implemented. There is an RleViews
and an XIntegerViews (is this one currently used at all?).

Views are limited to subsequences derived from a single sequence. For
more general lists of sequences, we have a separate framework, based
on the List class. The List optionally ensures that all of its elements
are derived from a specified type, and it also aims to efficiently
represent a major use case of lists: splitting a vector by a factor.
The indices of the elements with each factor level are stored, but
there is no physical split of the vector into separate list elements.

A special case that often occurs in data analysis is a list containing
a set of variables in the same dataset. This problem is solved by
'data.frame' in base R, and we have an equivalent DataFrame class
that can hold any type of R object, as long as it has a vector semantic.

Many of the important data structures have List analogs. These
include all atomic types, as well as:

  * SplitDataFrameList: a list of DataFrames that have the same
    columns (usually the result of a split)
    
  * RangesList: Essentially just a list of IntegerRanges objects, but often
    used for splitting IntegerRanges by their "space" (e.g. chromosome)