Adding some Zing to R

I’m reading the O’Reilly book called the R Cookbook. A really good 400 page book with 14 chapters. This gave me an idea if I could condense this book while reading it into 14 short tutorials- for each chapter into a DIY style.

How can we make teaching in general more fun so more people will want to learn R and make the learning curve less steep?

This is a new project: I will be publishing these tutorials over the next month.The tutorials will be 15 pages each. Just kidding – I will keep them as short as possible.

The goal of these tutorial is to make R fun and give you incentive to explore R more and hopefully read a more detailed  book yourself. That’s where I feel most books fail with me – it takes too much effort to sustain  interest of the reader.

I will be posting twice a week. You can figure out the pace you’re comfortable with.

Chapter 1 –  Getting Expectations Straight

Why should you learn R?  Statistics and graphics. Not compelling enough?

Let’s try again: Learn R if you want to play with numbers easily and make sense of them. R makes exploring and finding meaning from small spreadsheets (your monthly budgets?) to lots of data.

In bigger, and usually intentionally big words it’s a tool to do statistics, statistical programming and graphics.

These tutorials are not a 101 on statistics but how you can use R to do statistical analysis. The usage of R is not hard it when you understand the concepts already. But I will try my best to point you to the right resources to learn some concepts along the way. A stat tool is easy to learn how to use if you know what you want to get out of it. The latter is the hard part.

Now let’s figure out if you’re the right audience.

Read these tutorials a) If you’re curious about R or b) You want to learn how to learn how to make sense of groups of numbers or c) You are curious about the data analytics thought process

Of course if you’re a pro in R would love if you read it – and give feedback!


The requirements for these tutorial is you come with an ability to Google when something doesn’t make sense.

Additional Notes to remember – which are usually forgotten

1. Practice makes perfect. There will be points of frustration. As Bill Wtihers said ” You can’t get to wonderful without passing through Alright”

2. Most people usually start and never finish. Just an observation – but you can decide which category you want to be in.

3. #1 is worth repeating.

Setup and first commands:

Goto the R website and download R.  It’s available for Windows, Mac and UNIX. Choose a format – download it, run it and open R.

Once you click on the download link, choose the location closest to you.

Once you open R you will see a blank window with a prompt. This is called as the R console.

1. Type


and press enter.

First use of R – can be used as a calculator.

2. Type


To learn more about what this function does –


> help (max)

> ?max

HW for the next lesson:

Open R and use it as a calculator for the next few days. Whatever calculations you need to do – just open R and start typing them directly in the space.

If you need help help:

Just some steps you can follow throughout these tutorials when you get stuck –

1. Google

2. Type help(function_name) at the prompt or the ?followed by a prompt

3.The R website


Takes you online to the documentation.

That covers it for today. Next chapter in a few days.



5 thoughts on “Adding some Zing to R

  1. I’ve been wanting to explore R more. Getting started is always easier than finishing but am hoping to keep up 🙂
    R Download – check, Using it as a basic calc – check

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