R programming books

December 21, 2010
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(This article was first published on Why? » R, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

My sabbatical is rapidly coming to an end, and I have to start thinking more and more about teaching. Glancing over my module description for the introductory computational statistics course I teach, I noticed that it’s a bit light on recommend/background reading. In fact it has only two books:

  • A first course in statistical programming with R (Braun & Murdoch)
    • Pros: I quite like this book (hence the reason I put it on my list). It has a nice collection of exercises, it “looks nice” and doesn’t assume knowledge of programming. It also doesn’t assume (or try to teach) any statistics.
    • Cons: When describing for loops and functions the examples aren’t very statistical. For example, it uses Fibonacci sequences in the while loop section and the sieve of Eratosthenes for if statements.
  • An introduction to R (Venables & Smith)
    • Pros: Simple, short and to the point. Free copies available. Money from the book goes to the R project.
    • Cons: More a R reference guide than a textbook.

What other good R books could I recommend? In particular, I’m looking for books that:

  • Assume no prior knowledge of programming.
  • Assume very little knowledge of statistics. For example, no regression.
  • Doesn’t try to teach statistics. So no “R with ….” type books.
  • Are cheap!

Suggestions  welcome (needed!)


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