Moving from Excel to R

March 5, 2011

(This article was first published on FOSS Trading, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

This first post of the Backtesting in Excel and R series will provide some resources to help smooth the transition from the familiarity and comfort of Excel to the potentially strange and intimidating world of R.

I made my voyage from Excel to R more than 5 years ago and learned mostly by trial and error (and reading the R manuals).  Most people don’t prefer my approach of “keep at it until you figure it out”, so I don’t have a lot of personal advice to share.  My main piece of advice is that the best way to learn R is to use it, so most of the resources below focus on “how-to” do certain things in R.


While R for Windows comes with a very basic GUI (I’m not familiar with the R for Mac OS X GUIs), most people will want and benefit from something more elaborate.  The GUIs below were taken from the R GUI Projects page (visit the page for more information / alternatives) and I added the newcomer, RStudio:

Blogs / Videos


I haven’t read these two books personally, but I’ve heard very good things about both of them.  Both focus on how to accomplish specific tasks with R.

I hope this is helpful.  As always, please add suggestions in the comments!

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