The workhorse: R

R is an open source data analysis and visualization programming environment whose roots go back to the S programming language developed at Bell Laboratories in the 1970’s by John Chambers. It’s available for most operating systems including Windows and Macs.

You can download the latest version of R for Windows from and for the latest version of R for Mac got to

The friendly interface: RStudio

RStudio is an integrated development environment (IDE) for R. It offers a user friendly interface to R by including features such as a source code editor (with colored syntax), data table viewer, git and github integration and markdown output. Note that RStudio is not needed to run R (which has its own IDE environment–albeit not as nice as RStudio’s) but it makes using R far easier. RStudio is free software, but unlike R, it’s maintained by a private entity which also distributes a commercial version of RStudio for businesses or individuals needing customer support.

You can download RStudio from this link

Command line vs. script file

Command line

R can be run from a R console or a RStudio command line environment. For example, we can assign four numbers to the object x then have R read out the values stored in x by typing the following at a command line:

x <- c(1,2,3,4)
## [1] 1 2 3 4

<- is refered to as the assignment operator. Operations and functions to the right of the operator are stored in the object to the left.

R script file

If you intend on typing more than a few lines of code in a command prompt environment, or if you wish to save a series of commands as part of a project’s analysis, it is probably best that you type your commands in an a R script file. Such file is usually saved with a .R extension.

You create a new script by clicking on the upper-left icon and selecting R Script.

In RStudio, you can run (or execute in programming lingo) a line of code of an R script by placing a cursor anywhere on that line (while being careful not to highlight any subset of that line) and pressing the shortcut keys Ctrl+Enter (or Command+Enter on a Mac).

You can also run an entire block of code by selecting (highlighting) all lines to be run and pressing the shortcut keys Ctrl+Enter. Or, you can run the entire R script by pressing Ctrl+Alt+R.

In the following example, the R script file has three lines of code: two assignment operations and one regression analysis. The lines are run one at a time using the Ctrl+Enter keys and the output of each line is displayed in the console window.