Chapter 1

Introducing R: The Big Picture

In This Chapter

arrow Discovering the benefits of R

arrow Identifying some programming concepts that make R special

With an estimated worldwide user base of more than 2 million people, the R language has rapidly grown and extended since its origin as an academic demonstration language in the 1990s.

Some people would argue — and we think they’re right — that R is much more than a statistical programming language. It’s also

  • A very powerful tool for all kinds of data processing and manipulation
  • A community of programmers, users, academics, and practitioners
  • A tool that makes all kinds of publication-quality graphics and data visualizations
  • A collection of freely distributed add-on packages
  • A versatile toolbox for extensive automation of your work

In this chapter, we fill you in on the benefits of R, as well as its unique features and quirks.

tip You can download R at This website also provides more information on R and links to the online manuals, mailing lists, conferences, and publications.

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