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R Tutorial for Beginners: Become an Expert in R Programming

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27th Jun, 2023
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R Tutorial for Beginners: Become an Expert in R Programming

The world today depends heavily on data for everything, especially to make decisions on future activities. The process of studying and analyzing data through scientific methods to extract insights from them is called Data Science. Data Science is a much sought after skill, useful to universities, individuals and companies across the globe. One of the ways you can begin data analysis and data science is by learning R. Learning R for beginners is more rewarding than challenging. The essential elements of R are very straightforward. 

Why is R so popular?

You might come across different software that gives you the same features as R, but R stands out. You might ask why? R is also called the language for statistical computing and is extremely popular for several reasons.

  1. Inexpensive: R is easy to download and completely free. It can be installed online, anytime and anywhere.
  1. Visualization Capabilities: Data visualization on R is more impressive than anywhere else. There are in-built R libraries that build displays and graphically present the data, making it more comfortable to understand.
  1. Easy to make packages: You can easily create a package on R. Packages are add-ons to the software, which allow you to do more than the basics.
  2. Dynamic Community: There are millions of people around the world who use R. They have online communities in the form of blogs and forums, which make interaction easier. 

Why should I learn R?

Amidst the several other data analytics tools, you might ask, “why should I learn R?” You should learn R because of how rewarding it is. Moreover, it is used for a lot of activities by huge companies globally and universities too. It is used for different purposes, like optimizing the financial portfolio, financial analysis and analyzing outcome trials. It has gained popularity and is recognized worldwide for data analytics and data science. 

Read: Python v R

How do I install R?

R is elementary to download and use online. You should ideally install R before downloading RStudio. RStudio is an environment developed for R. 

Will I face challenges while using R?

Learning R for beginners can be tricky, especially if you have no experience in programming. There is a common belief that R for beginners is challenging to master. One reason for this might be the fact that R is different from other data science tools. Another reason could be that there are several commands to be made for a single output. However, R is globally used and recognized. It can be more rewarding than challenging once the users get the hang of the data science tool.

Data Wrangling

R provides powerful tools for data wrangling, which involves cleaning, transforming, and organizing data for analysis. Beginners can learn how to manipulate datasets, filter and select specific variables, handle missing data, and merge datasets using functions like dplyr and tidyr. These packages make data cleaning and preparation more efficient and intuitive. R tutorial for beginners are available online which can help in navigating the software. 

Statistical Analysis

As it has a large selection of statistical packages and libraries, R is frequently used for statistical analysis. Beginners may pick up a variety of statistical skills, including regression analysis, descriptive statistics, and hypothesis testing. A wide range of statistical modeling and analysis capabilities are available in packages like stats, car, and psych. For in depth learning, R tutorial for beginners are available online.

Data Visualization

R excels in data visualization, allowing beginners to create compelling and informative visualizations. With packages like ggplot2 and plotly, users can generate high-quality graphs, charts, and interactive visualizations to explore and present data effectively. Learning how to customize plots, add labels, and create visualizations for different types of data is essential for beginners. 

Machine Learning

R provides numerous machine learning algorithms and packages for predictive modeling. Beginners can learn how to implement popular machine learning techniques, including decision trees, random forests, support vector machines, and neural networks. Packages like caret and mlr provide a unified interface for machine learning tasks, making it easier to train models, tune hyperparameters, and evaluate performance.

Reproducible Research

R supports reproducible research, allowing beginners to create reports and documents that combine code, analysis, and visualizations. R Markdown is a powerful tool that integrates code and text to generate dynamic reports in various formats, such as HTML, PDF, and Word. By mastering R Markdown, beginners can create professional and reproducible documents showcasing their data analysis process. Beginners must choose an R programming tutorial to further understand the software.

Community Support and Resources

The community of data scientists, statisticians, and programmers in R is active and encouraging. The wealth of tools, which include online courses, forums, and Stack Overflow, might be helpful to beginners. Users of R actively contribute their expertise, code snippets, and packages to foster a community of learners and problem-solvers. The R programming tutorial will help you in understanding the intricate details of the software. 

Big Data Analysis

R has evolved to handle big data analysis with packages like dplyr and data.table. Beginners can learn how to work with large datasets efficiently, leveraging parallel processing and optimized functions. Additionally, R interfaces with distributed computing frameworks like Apache Spark, enabling scalable data analysis on clusters.

Web Scraping and APIs

R offers packages like rvest and httr that allow beginners to scrape data from websites and interact with web APIs. They learn to extract structured data from web pages, automate data retrieval, and integrate external data sources into their analyses. R language tutorial is considered best for those who want to learn web scraping and APIs.

R in Industry

R is widely adopted in industries such as finance, healthcare, marketing, and technology. Beginners can explore real-world applications of R in these domains, including risk modeling, customer segmentation, clinical research, and social media analysis. Learning R opens up opportunities for employment and collaboration in various sectors. R language tutorial is available online to enhance the existing skillset.

By diving into these aspects of R, beginners can acquire a solid foundation in data analysis, statistical modeling, and machine learning. With practice and exploration, they can harness the power of R to extract insights from data and contribute to the growing field of data science.

What are the different data types in R?

To efficiently write programmes on R, you need to know the different data types. You will come across these terms frequently while using with R and interacting with the community that use R. The different data types on R are:

Character: A character is any letter inside “ ” or ‘ ’, like “a” or “total”.

Numeric: A decimal value on R is called a numeric. A numeric cannot be an integer. 

Integer: An integer is any whole number on R. An integer is an integer, but the opposite is not always true. “L” is generally added after a number to indicate that it is an integer. 

Logical: This implies a Boolean value, i.e., only True or False. These are often indicated with a T or F. 

Complex: This implies a complex number, which cannot be represented with integers or numeric alone. For example, 2+5i is a complex data type.

Other data frame functions are more complex and can be created. 

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What are the different programming features?

If you are a beginner, the very first things you need to know about R are the different programming features.

R Console: It is a part of the window where you can type in the commands. You can also view the results here. For example, if you type 1+2 here, you can view the result. You can use the console for experimentation and see the output. 

Variable: Variables are used to save numbers and values in R. You can save data for future use here. For example, if you want to store the dimensions of a rectangle, then you can enter width = 4 and height = 3. This will get stored in R for your future use. Also, these values can be changed later. 

Workspace: This is the area on your R that stores your variables. So, if you enter width and height here now, the values will show. It is your working environment on the data science tool.

R script: This is a text file with the commands that you have put in. You can always change your variable values.

Vector: This is the simplest data structure you can have on R. It is merely a sequence of data elements of the primary type. It is a 1-D array of data elements.

Matrix: This is only an extension of vectors. It is a 2-D array of data elements. So here, you can have your data in the form of rows and columns. 

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Wrapping Up

In a nutshell, learning R for beginners can be very interesting. You can use it for data analysis and leverage the increasing dependence on data and the availability of data sets. Other data analysis tools have their limitations, just like R. This statistical computing software is now being widely used across the globe.

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Rohit Sharma

Blog Author
Rohit Sharma is the Program Director for the UpGrad-IIIT Bangalore, PG Diploma Data Analytics Program.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1How to learn R with a step-by-step approach?

R is a very popular programming language in the field of data science. If you are a beginner in this field, then people will often suggest you begin with the R programming language. It is relatively easy, but if you don't get onto learning it with a step-by-step approach, you might become frustrated.

Once you follow the right approach, you will stay on the right track and also learn R effectively. Find out your purpose of learning R to keep up with the motivation. Start learning the basic syntax through tutorials and online courses. Work on structured projects. Build some projects of your own to gain hands-on experience. Enhance the level of difficulty and improve your skills.

2Is the R programming language worth learning?

The R programming language is a very useful one when it comes to data science and statistical analysis. There is a huge community of enthusiasts supporting both Python and R programming languages. If you have a decent knowledge of statistics, then you will find it pretty easy to get along with learning R.

You can rely on the R programming language no matter what type of analysis work you have to perform. There are several tools also provided to make your work simpler. On top of that, R is also considered to be the perfect fit for big data solutions. There are plenty of organizations looking for well-versed professionals with R. It is definitely worth it to learn R.

3Is it possible to use R for big data?

There are plenty of built-in statistical commands in R, which makes it the most widely used programming language for data analysis. R is open-source software, which makes it a favorable choice for data analysts and statisticians.

There are several new packages being developed by the R community, along with constant updates being made to the old packages for supporting and handling big data.

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