What is R?

What is R

What do you call the magic spell that turns raw data into knowledge? It’s called statistical computing. And what powers statical computing?

The secret lies behind a programming language, R.

What is R? Definition

R is a programming language primarily used for statistical computing and graphics. It’s free and anyone can use or change it because it’s open-source. This means you can download it without paying and even tweak it if you know how to code.

Developed at Bell Laboratories, R is considered an implementation of the S language. The catch? R comes with several enhancements and differences that support a wide array of statistical techniques. 

R is available under the GNU General Public License. It runs on various platforms including UNIX, Linux, Windows, and macOS. The language is particularly noted for its powerful graphics capabilities and its ability to produce well-designed, publication-quality plots. These include mathematical symbols and formulas when necessary. Further, it is equipped with a comprehensive set of tools for data manipulation.

If you want to master React and land a high-paying job as a React Developer, consider Certified React Developer™ certification by the Global Tech Council.

Features of R

  • R doesn’t cost anything to use. You can download it from the internet and start using it right away. You can also see and modify the code if you need to.
  • It plays well with other software. For example, you can use it with data processing applications like Hadoop for big data projects, or integrate it with languages like C++, which is useful when you need extra speed for calculations.
  • R makes it easy to handle data. It has built-in ways to organize and manipulate your data. This feature is handy when you have to clean up data or get it ready for analysis.
  • R has its own programming language style. But don’t worry. It’s not too hard to learn the basics. Once you get the hang of it, you can start creating programs that help you work with data.
  • You can use R on different operating systems like Windows, Mac, and Linux. This means you can work on your projects on any computer.
  • If you’re interested in making predictions or finding patterns in data, R can be a great help. It offers tools (in packages like Caret and randomForest) that can help you build machine learning models to predict future trends based on past data. 
  • R supports a style of programming called functional programming. This means you can write parts of your program as reusable pieces called functions. They can do specific tasks and can be used over and over. You can even give one function as input to other functions.

What is R Used For?

  • R has a vast library of packages available on CRAN. It is a repository of R software and documentation. These packages allow you to do more specialized statistical analyses, data visualizations, and data manipulation with ease​​.
  • It has a large and active community. This means lots of tutorials, forums, and free resources are available to help you learn and solve any problems you might encounter​​.
  • R is particularly strong in statistical analysis and graphical capabilities. It has tools and packages that can help​ from anything simple to complex.
  • It is excellent for creating visual data representations. Tools like ggplot2 allow you to make professional plots and charts that are publication-quality​.
  • Platform Independent: R works on various operating systems including Windows, Mac, and Linux. This versatility means you can use R on your preferred operating system without hassle​​.
  • For a more user-friendly experience, you can use RStudio, an IDE. They make coding in R more accessible with features like syntax highlighting, code completion, and better visual data representation​​.
  • With packages like Shiny, R allows you to build interactive web apps that can visualize data on the fly. This is great for sharing your data analysis with others without them needing to run R​.

Coding with R: Sample Code

Let’s create a sample code in R to calculate the mean, median, and standard deviation of a set of numbers.


  1. Create a Vector: In R, a vector is a basic data structure which can hold an array of numbers. We’ll start by creating a vector of numbers.
  2. Calculate Mean: The mean (average) is calculated by the mean() function, which sums up all the elements of the vector and divides by the number of elements.
  3. Calculate Median: The median is the middle value of a data set. When the dataset has an odd number of observations, it is the middle number. When the dataset has an even number of observations, it is the average of the two middle numbers. This is calculated using the median() function.
  4. Calculate Standard Deviation: The standard deviation measures the amount of variation or dispersion from the average. The sd() function is used to calculate this.
  5. Print the Results: Finally, the results for mean, median, and standard deviation are printed using the print() function.

# Creating a vector of numbers

numbers <- c(23, 45, 67, 22, 34, 56, 78, 90, 12, 34)

# Calculating mean

mean_value <- mean(numbers)

# Calculating median

median_value <- median(numbers)

# Calculating standard deviation

std_deviation <- sd(numbers)

# Printing the results

print(paste(“Mean:”, mean_value))

print(paste(“Median:”, median_value))

print(paste(“Standard Deviation:”, std_deviation))

How to Use This Code?

  • You can simply copy and paste the above code into an R script or R console.
  • To run this in R, make sure you have R installed on your computer or use an online R compiler.
  • The output will display the mean, median, and standard deviation of the numbers in the vector.

Start your tech journey today with the Global Tech Council. Learn modern programming languages from experts and join a global community of certified professionals.

Where is R Used?

  1. Social Media Analysis: Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter use R to analyze user behavior and interactions. For instance, Facebook uses R to predict how users might interact with each other based on their network activity. This helps in enhancing user experience by showing more relevant content or suggestions.
  2. Advertising and Marketing: Google utilizes R to analyze the effectiveness of their advertising campaigns. They measure the return on investment (ROI) from different ads to see which ones are working and which aren’t. This kind of analysis helps companies optimize their marketing strategies to ensure they are targeting the right audience effectively.
  3. Financial Services: Banks like Bank of America use R for risk management and financial forecasting. R helps them assess the risk associated with loans, predict future economic trends, and make data-driven decisions to avoid potential financial losses.
  4. Healthcare: In healthcare, R is used for medical research and analysis. For example, pharmaceutical companies like Merck use R to analyze clinical trial data. This helps them understand the effectiveness of drugs and can speed up the process of getting approvals from regulators.
  5. Retail: Retail giants like Walmart analyze customer data using R to understand purchasing patterns and optimize inventory management. This includes recommending products to customers based on their previous purchases and managing stock levels to ensure popular items do not run out.
  6. Manufacturing: Companies like Ford use R to improve their manufacturing processes and product designs. By analyzing customer feedback and operational data, they can make adjustments to their production lines to improve quality and reduce costs.

Pros and Cons of R Programming Language

Open source and free to use​Steep learning curve for beginners​ 
Cross-platform compatibility​ Memory-intensive, affecting performance​ 
Wide variety of libraries for data analysis​ Limited GUI options make it less user-friendly​ 
Excellent for statistical analysis and graphics​ Can be slow compared to other languages like Python​ 
Active and supportive community​ Inconsistent quality in packages and documentation​ 


R is a powerful tool in the statistical programming universe. It’s not only favored by academics and researchers but also by industries that rely heavily on data. For anyone looking to master data analysis, learning R is a valuable investment. With ongoing improvements it is set to remain a key player in the programming world.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is R?

  • R is a programming language primarily used for statistical computing and graphics.
  • It’s free and open-source, meaning anyone can use or modify it without cost.
  • Developed at Bell Laboratories, R is considered an implementation of the S language with enhancements for statistical techniques.
  • It runs on various platforms including UNIX, Linux, Windows, and macOS, and is known for its powerful graphics capabilities.

How can I use R?

  • You can download R from the internet for free and start using it right away.
  • R plays well with other software like Hadoop for big data projects or languages like C++ for extra speed.
  • It’s equipped with built-in tools for organizing and manipulating data, making it easy to handle.
  • Learning the basics of R’s programming language style is not too difficult, and there are many resources available to help you get started.

What can I do with R?

  • R is versatile and can be used for various tasks including statistical analysis, data visualization, and machine learning modeling.
  • It has a vast library of packages available on CRAN, allowing for specialized analyses and data manipulations.
  • R is utilized in industries such as social media analysis, advertising, finance, healthcare, retail, and manufacturing.
  • With packages like Shiny, R allows you to build interactive web apps for data visualization and analysis.

What platforms does R support?

  • R runs on various operating systems, including Windows, macOS, Linux, and UNIX.
  • Users can seamlessly work with R on their preferred platform without compatibility issues.
  • This platform independence ensures flexibility and convenience for users across different environments.
  • R can be installed and utilized on both desktop and server environments.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *