Learn R: As a Language

October 31, 2020
Learn R: As a Language

Learning a computer language like R can be either frustrating,fun, or boring. Having fun requires challenges that wake up thelearner’s curiosity but also provide an emotional reward onovercoming them. This book is designed so that it includes smallerand bigger challenges, in what I call playgrounds, in the hope thatall readers will enjoy their path to R fluency. Fluency in the useof a language is a skill that is acquired through practice andexploration. Although rarely mentioned separately, fluency in acomputer programming language involves both writing and reading.The parallels between natural and computer languages are many, butdifferences are also important. For students and professionals inthe biological sciences, humanities, and many applied fields,recognizing the parallels between R and natural languages shouldhelp them feel at home with R. The approach I use is similar tothat of a travel guide, encouraging exploration and describing theavailable alternatives and how to reach them. The intention is toguide the reader through the R landscape of 2020 and beyond.FeaturesR as it is currently usedFew prescriptive rules―mostly the author’s preferences togetherwith alternativesExplanation of the R grammar emphasizing the "R way of doingthings"Tutoring for "programming in the small" using scriptsThe grammar of graphics and the grammar of data described asgrammarsExamples of data exchange between R and the foreign world usingcommon file formatsCoaching for becoming an independent R user, capable of bothwriting original code and solving future challengesWhat makes this book different from others:Tries to break the ice and help readers from all disciplinesfeel at home with RDoes not make assumptions about what the reader will use RforAttempts to do only one thing well: guide readers into becomingfluent in the R languagePedro J. Aphalo is a PhD graduate from theUniversity of Edinburgh, and is currently a lecturer at theUniversity of Helsinki. A plant biologist and agriculture scientistwith a passion for data, electronics, computers, and photography,in addition to plants, Dr. Aphalo has been a user of R for 25years. He first organized an R course for MSc students 18 yearsago, and is the author of 13 R packages currently in CRAN.