Lesson 2 – R is your companion

  is your companion in this journey through data. It is a software environment that performs the analysis and creates plots for us upon instruction. People who are familiar with computer programming need no introduction. Others who are just getting started with data analysis but are skeptical about computer programming – count the number of 1’s in this data. You will need no more convincing to embrace R.

You can follow these steps to install R and its partner RStudio.

1) Installing R: Use this link https://cran.r-project.org to download and install R on your computer. There are separate download links for Mac, Windows or Linux users.

2) Installing RStudio: Use this link https://www.rstudio.com/products/rstudio/download/ to download and install RStudio on your computer. RStudio will be your environment for coding and visualizations. For RStudio to run, you need to install R; which is why we followed step 1.

Getting started with RStudio
Open RStudio – you should see three panels, the console, environment and history and the files panels.

In the console panel, you will get a copyright message and a “>” prompt. Type 1+2 and hit enter here to check that RStudio is working. You should see the number 3 pop up, which means you are ready to go.

Writing your code
You can use a text editor to give instructions to RStudio (writing your code) and save those instructions (saving your code). In the text editor, you can also write comments to help you remember the steps and make it user-friendly and readable. As a simple example, imagine you want to add 2 numbers, 1 and 2 and you want to write instructions for this. You can type

The first line starts with a #; it is a comment — for people to know that you are adding 2 numbers.

The second line is the actual code or instruction to add 1 and 2.

Remember, a well-written code with clear comments is like having good handwriting.

Opening the text editor
Once you load RStudio, go to “File >> New >> R script”.
You will now see the text editor as the 4th panels on RStudio. You can save the code using the “save” button or by using “Ctrl+S”. Use .R as the extension — “code.R”.

Some simple code
Type the following lines in your code and execute them by clicking the “Run” button on the top right.

Shortcut: You can also place the cursor on the line and hit “Ctrl+Enter” if you are using Windows or “Cmd+Enter” if you are using a Mac. Notice the results of your code in the console.

I have more simple instructions for practice here. Copy them to your code and have fun coding.

We will learn data analysis using RStudio. I will provide more coding tricks as we go along.


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2 thoughts on “Lesson 2 – R is your companion”

    1. I find R to be more flexible for visualization, plotting and other complex modeling. That said, I haven’t really spent much time with python. So my view may be biased toward R.

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