What Is R?

Kevin Feasel



Dave Mason has started a new blog and hits the heavy topic first:

For anyone that has no idea what R is, comparisons to scripting languages like PowerShell, javascript, vbscript, or even DOS batch/cmd files might be helpful. I feel there are enough commonalities, at least conceptually at a high level, for the comparison to be appropriate. We’ve already seen some differences, though. The <- assignment operator sure is weird. I recall Oracle’s PL/SQL used := as an assignment operator. Almost all other languages I remember coding with use the near-universal = (equals sign). Using <- will take some time getting used to.

Those R variables used in this post are declared without a data type. But they do have underlying types, which I’ll cover in another post. If I remember correctly, javascript doesn’t have types–everything is an object (please leave a comment if this is wrong and I’ll correct the post later). Vbscript used “var”s for everything, although you could coerce data types with functions like CInt, CBool, etc.

The way I like to describe R is as two things:  first, it is a domain-specific language dedicated to statistical analysis; and second, that it is a functional programming language (though not a pure functional language).

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