Archive for October, 2012

All I need to know to learn R


I’ve been learning R, mostly because it’s been on my list of things to do for ages, and partly because I needed to draw a histogram.

All the tedious stuff about how you get started and how you install things is surprisingly difficult to get from the internets.

So to install on Ubunutu:

sudo apt-get install r-base

Then you run the command R:

$ R

Once you’re in R you can find things out by using Google. Once you’ve found a function you want to use, say sj.test, if it doesn’t seem to be installed, you can install it by noting the library name which is in curly brackets at the top of the man page. {lawstat} in this case. So you then go:

> install.packages("lawstat") # to install it
> library(lawstat) # to use it

(the package installer has a hilariously craptastic interface written in Tcl/Tk)

That’s it. Everything I need to know to learn R. Everything else is just bog standard programming language stuff (though it helps a bit that I learnt a bit of J).

Here’s the histogram:

And the R code is behind this link. The way the function png() implicitly makes hist() write into the PNG file is particularly bletcherous. It has all the elegance of writing JCL for IBM mainframes.