R: The fun, getting started.

For anyone needing to make pretty pictures (read: graphs) with more than Excel, I highly recommend adding R to your arsenal. The ease of graphing alone makes this product worthwhile.

Here’s what I’ve found to be useful:

  • Install R-Studio. Really. It’s way more useful than the command line for the standard folk who don’t live in command shells. I usually do, but I still prefer a development environment for working.
  • Get the book R in Action. It has taught me more in the last week than I have learnt in the 6 odd months of tinkering.
  • Its power comes from being able to gather data from various sources, merge that data, and process that data. You then visualise the data.

Granted, I’m oversimplifying things, but I’m still new to this so bear with me as I take this journey. My background is C++ and C#, not statistics. I’m hoping to learn some of that though in my journey with R.

Note that R is a programming language. This is not a GUI tool by any stroke of the imagination. There are tools out there to visualise data of course, including some that use R (including R packages that make it easier).

My three points above should help you get started. They certainly helped me.