Introducing you to ‘R’
Find out about the benefits that ‘R’ data analysis could bring to your business.
What is R?
As a general guide, ‘R’ is a community of computer scientists that perform data and statistical analysis with open-source software, using a programming language, named R. To the untrained eye, this can all seem incomprehensible, but luckily you can hire someone do all this analysis for you if you prefer! That means you can reap all the benefits without having to learn it!
How R was founded
In 1993, at the University of Auckland, Ross Ihaka and Robert Gentleman created the R community. Since its founding, it has grown all across the world, benefiting from the contributions of more than 20 renowned computer scientists and statisticians. Today, there are well over two million R users, with an extraordinary wealth of resources for users of all levels of ability, from beginners to experts.
Most of the latest tools for statistical analyses are available in the R language, which makes it easier for statisticians and data scientists to conduct research in almost every data manipulation available.
Benefits of ‘R’ data analysis:
R is widely used by analysts, data scientists and other industry experts who need to be able to interpret data insights and turn it into useful information. It is relatively inexpensive to train R developers, and because you can run an R Server on a physical device as well as cloudware, you can use it more flexibly. The server is designed to handle enormous amounts of data and design clever new web apps, such as Shiny by RStudio. And that means you can learn more about your business and how to leverage your data into valuable research.
R can be downloaded free of charge, and the source code can be easily modified and inspected. That means anyone who is eager to learn about how R works – from the algorithms to methodology – can discover how it really works. There are 1000s of packages, which can handle specialised tasks, available for you to download. You can find complete data analysis represented by only a few lines of code. These can be easily understood by statisticians, because R is designed by statisticians, after all.
Widely used in social media
According to Computerworld, some people working for Facebook already use R to analyse user behaviour, and Google employs hundreds of R users to improve the efficacy of digital advertising. LinkedIn, too, even has its own R group with thousands of members, and you can find dozens of Meetup groups that offer beginners, intermediates and experts the opportunity to discuss R data analysis and statistics. Therefore, learning about R could be a great opportunity to network and build contacts.
Additionally, cutting edge researchers in the pharmaceutical and health care sector are using R, which makes it a brilliant academic tool.
How to start doing R – a few simple shortcuts
If you’re keen to learn R, it’s not as difficult as it might first appear. According to the chief scientist of RStudio, Wickham, there are three shortcuts you can use that will help you navigate the language:
- use the Tab to find suggested files or functions so you can click on the one you want to use
- use Control + Enter to send the current line of code to a console and execute it
- or use Control + the up arrow to find a list of all the command history.
For more information about how to learn R, it’s a good idea to schedule an afternoon to watch some tutorials. Alternatively, meet R professionals on LinkedIn or at your nearest Meetup group, or book an appointment with a software development company who specialises in R.
Karen Harding is the marketing manager at Objective IT, one of the South East’s leading web and software development companies. The Objective IT team has recently expanded to include a data scientist who is proficient in the development and implementation of R.
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