R for dummies

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I already mentioned R for dummies a while ago on the ‘Og and never got around to read it from cover to back. Now that I am reduced to a dummy state with too much free time!, I can produce a full review of the book.

R for dummies was written by two Belgian statistics conultants, de Vries and Meys. It covers the basics of R in five parts: intro to R, bases of R, coding with R, data structures, and graphics in R. Overall, although the “for dummies style” generally grates on my approach to books, I have no objection whatsoever to this R for dummies and given its price  I could even use it in my R class next year. Esp. since it advocates the use of modern tools like Rstudio and ggplot2. It also compares with a lot of other R manuals, providing the proper basics but not going too far into the subtleties of the language. I think there may be a wee bit too much in the handling of data sections and not enough in the statistics and graphics sections. But there are quite useful gems, as well, from the generic recommendations on how to write clean code (not enough on the local vs. global variables) to debugging tools to the entry into the formula interface. (We could have done without the ten things we could have done in Excel!)

A minor criticism is that the graphics are mostly rough outcomes with no attempt at making them “nicer”. Similarly (in terms of importance), the cover involves a ridiculous pseudo-histogram in 3D that was clearly not produced with R… A silly choice when writing about a graphic-friendly computer language!

Overall, a worthy addition to the collection of R manuals. I would certainly put Matloff’s Art of R Programming on top but this one may reach a different audience…

Filed under: Books, R, Statistics, University life

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