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APRIL 11, 2023

An Introduction to R Programming Language

    In today's world, Data is the new currency.

    Anyone that can make use of the existing data and utilize it to make certain predictions, can drive the advancement in technology.

    So, let's first understand the basic purpose behind the need for the R Programming Language.

    What is R?

    In simple terms,

    R is a programming language as well as a statistical tool which helps you to make predictions by making use of the available data.

    By statistical tool, we mean that it applies different rules of statistics to get the required results about data which was just a raw price of information earlier.

    Why do we need to use R Programming language?

    R is one of the best tools for analyzing data and extracting conclusions from it.

    By extracting conclusion, we refer to its ability to help the user understand the fucntionality and patterns available in the data to carry out further analysis.

    In corporates, R is mostly used to carry out data analysis so that data can be represented in various forms such as various pictorial graphs, histograms, bar graphs, pie charts etc.

    This helps us to understand the data which was just a raw piece of information before carrying out the analysis.

    The most important advantage of R is that it is very user as well as programmer friendly i.e. even a person from a non-programming background can easily understand and implement codes in R.

    But all these functionalities can also be performed by making use of Microsoft Excel right?

    Yes, you are right. But the major qualities that distinguishes R from Microsoft Excel and any such tool is that it is very powerful and highly automated.

    Let's dive a bit deeper into both of these qualities of R:

    • Very Powerful: R can be used to perfrom data analysis and represent it in the form of a graph just by making use of a single line command (which we will be covering later in the upcoming posts). It also has other features and functionalities such as implementing loops and a variety of inbuilt functions, which can be used to complete the task in hand in a very simple and effective manner.

    • Highly Automated: R can be used for extensive automation. So basically, tasks done once can be used again and again without changing the code. This provides the user with one of the most superior functionality in programming- Code Reusability.

    Advantages of using R Programming Language:

    • Machine Learning Operations: R is one of the most preferred tools by some of the best data scientists working in the field of Machine Learning and Deep Learning. R helps the programmer to carry out various Machine Learning related operations such as Classification and Regression techniques, on a bulk amount of data. R Programming langugage also provides the data scientists with a variety of libraries and packages that are of great use in the development of artificial Neural Network. To get some more clarity on these terminologies, you may refer to one of ours articles here:
    • Platform Independent: When we say that R programming language is a platform independent langauge (or a cross-platform language), we refer to it's capability of working fine on variety of platforms and Operating Systems such as Windows, Linux, MacOS, etc. This enables the programmers to write code only once and make use of it on all the available platforms. This makes it offer one of the most important property of a programming language: Code Reusability.
    • Graph Plotting: As discussed earlier in this article, R is an efficient tool to analyze and visualizing data. R libraries such as ggplot2 and plotly advocates for visually appealing and aesthetic graphs which set R apart from other programming languages.
    • Statistical Tool: Unlike most of the available programming languages, R Programming language offers various statistical tools that can be used to extract various relevant statistics from the raw data. Due to this unique quality, R programming language is also referred to as a language of statistics.
    • Open Source: An open-source language is a language on which we can work without any need for a license or a fee. R is an open-source language. We can contribute to the development of R by optimizing our packages, developing new ones, and resolving issues. You may also refer to various Open Source projects on the same on the Google Summer Of Code 2023 homepage, where they make available some of the interesting topics one could contribute at. It can be found here:
    • Robust: R Programming Language is very good at handling and getting accustomed to the changing software needs. R provides updates as and when necessary as per the chaning environment in the software development industry.

    Disadvantages of using R Programming Language:

    • Slow: R Programming language is not so prferred programming language when the speed is of high priority. Other programming tools such as Python , MATLAB, etc. prove to be faster than the R Programming language and hence are preferred when the execution speed of high concern.
    • Lack of Security: One of the major drawbacks of using R Programming Languages is it lacks basic security. Due to this, it is not much used in applications where security of high concern such as Web development, Application Development, etc. at the corporate level.
    • Data Handling: In R, objects are stored in physical memory. It is in contrast with other programming languages like Python. R utilizes more memory as compared to Python. It requires the entire data in one single place which is in the memory. It is not an ideal option when we deal with Big Data.
    • Weak Origin: Most of the people are not familiar with the fact that R originates from another programming language 'S', the more about which can be seen here: As a result, R Programming language fails to provide the programmers and graphic designers with some of the most important features such as 3D graphics.

    These were some of the most important and "good to know" advantages and disadvantages of the R Programming Language that a developer should know before getting started with it.

    We hope that you have found this article helpful to get started with R Programming Language.

    In the upcoming posts, we will be covering some more intersting topics in R such as it's installation on various OS platforms, the variety of data types, implementation of some basic codes, etc.

    Happy Learning : )

    Technical writer Aditya Jain specialises in LeetCode. Aditya's writing style simplifies even the hardest LeetCode problems. Aditya works to help developers improve and reach their potential.