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R: Introduction to R

An introduction to the R programming language.

Introduction to R

About R

  • R website,
  • Free and open source software
  • Runs on Windows, OSX, GNU/Linux, FreeBSD, and more
  • Created in ‘93 as a free software version of the S language
  • R is both a programming language and a programming environment
  • Installing R provides the default “R Base" suite of R packages, the modules of functionality available by default
  • Additional packages can be installed from within R via CRAN (Comprehensive R Archive Network)
    • CRAN website,
    • The main source for downloading R and most packages
    • Documentation is provided with each package for learning how to use the package
    • Datasets are often available within a package to practice using the its functions
    • Very active global community of users and developers


Programming Features of R

  • Interpreted language (commands are executed directly and output is provided immediately)
  • Accessible via:
    • Command line
    • The R application itself
    • 3rd party graphical user interfaces, like RStudio
  • Supports procedural programming with functions and some object-oriented programming
  • data structures include
    • Vectors
    • Matrices
    • Arrays
    • Data frames
    • Lists



  • RStudio website,
  • Free and open source software
  • Most popular integrated development environment (IDE) for R
  • Combines the power of the command line with the smaller learning curve of a graphical user interface
  • Provides the same experience across operating systems (which the R application and other GUIs do not)
  • Requires prior R installation