Chapter 2. Into the Matrix

In the 1999 movie The Matrix, Neo and a bunch of other hackers/freedom fighters rebelled against their machine overlords, who imprisoned humans in vats all their lives to use them as batteries. The Matrix itself was a simulated reality that depicted the world as it was in 1999.

The R environment is just like the Matrix (except for the 1999 part). In the R environment, you—like Neo—are the One. You literally control everything in the workspace, and can recall history and see the code. You can manipulate objects in the environment and also source the code. Most importantly, R is built for and has a comprehensive suite of matrix operations that allows you to perform matrix programming with ease.

In this chapter, you will be learning about all of these topics. By the end of this chapter, although you might not be the One, you will certainly be able to fly on to the rest of the book.

Introducing R

Programmers are trained in logic, and our daily work mostly involves controlling and moving bits and bytes around. So when we’re faced with a chunk of data and asked to do something with it, our reactions usually involve either bolting for the nearest exit or stuffing the data into a relational database and running SQL SELECT statements on it.

I’m exaggerating, of course. Most, if not all, data scientists are also programmers, and you can hardly get away with data analysis without doing some programming work. However, not all programming platforms and languages are suitable ...

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