Does your organization use business intelligence to improve performance? Is data analysis key to your basic operations?
If so, you’re probably reaping the benefits of the R open source platform – and you may not even realize it.
R, simply put, is the standard language statisticians use for data analysis and the development of analytics-focused software. It’s what helps marketing consultants understand how many recipients opened their latest sales email. And although we may not have “behind the scenes” access to Facebook’s offices, it’s likely that Mark Zuckerberg uses R to learn how long the average user stays logged in during a given session.
There’s a good chance that if you use a software that provides analytical data, R is at work behind the scenes.
Reasons programmers like R
There’s really a lot to like. Since R is open source, it’s available to anybody free of charge. You can download R today and get to work immediately.
Not only that, but today’s users benefit from over 15 years of improvements and modifications from R veterans.
A whole blogosphere of experts is constantly writing about R and offering tips and tricks to the global R community. Users discovering R for the first time can “jump right in” and start learning how to make the most of a very flexible programming language that’s useful across a wide swath of verticals.
R is heavy on benefits, too. At the very core of the R platform lies the simple visualization of data. Using the source code to produce easily understood graphical data is arguably what makes R the single most useful tool statisticians can use to present laypeople with otherwise complex statistical analyses.
It’s actually how many of the graphs and charts you see in major media publications got there. And it’s how your boss uses data to help him or her make changes that improve (hopefully) your workplace.
How to get started with R
Anyone who wants to know more about the source code driving their analytical tools should have, relatively speaking, an easy time of it.
Among programming languages, R is considered one of the easier to understand. If you already have coding experience, using R probably won’t be as involved as you suspect.
A good resource for beginners is the R Tutorial Series by John M. Quick. It’s totally free and should take you from zero to R champion – assuming you already have a little coding experience, that is. It’s written especially for students, researchers, and programmers looking to dip their toes in the expansive R universe.
And don’t forget that the R community is huge. One of the great things about open source platforms is the ability to collaborate and interact with experienced users.
Even if you’re not a programmer or even all that tech-savvy, knowing a thing or two about R will offer a greater level of understanding the next time your manager shows everyone a pie chart at the department meeting. It could even make you a greater asset to your employer, too.
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