R in a Nutshell – A Review

This post is my review of Joseph Adler’s R in a Nutshell 2nd Edition, published by O’Reilly. I chose this book because I’m just getting started with statistics. I’ve read other books in  the O’Reilly Nutshell series and found them to be very helpful. This book is no different. I recommend it for anyone who wants an introduction to the R programming language or needs a good R reference. However I may not be the best reviewer as much of this material is new to me.

The book is written in 6 parts. Part 1 gets you started with R, including where to get the software and a quick look at how to use it. If you’re already somewhat familiar with R you can probably just browse through these chapters. Part 2 shows R in more detail. You’ll see more of the syntax and using R for object oriented programming. Part 3 is on working with data. Here you’ll see how to load data into R or how to export it. Part 4 is on visualizing your data; graphing and plotting. Part 5 is statistics with R. You’ll learn how to create statistical tests and models. Finally, Part 6 covers additional topics that don’t fit in other chapters. There’s a great chapter with tips on how to optimize your code. There’s also a chapter here that covers R and Hadoop which wasn’t in the first edition of the book. There’s a large, very useful appendix at the end of the book that serves as a reference to R functions.

R in a Nutshell is well-written. There are plenty of easy to follow examples with good, informative explanations. As I’m just getting started with R I found the chapters on basic R syntax and usage to be the most helpful. I just couldn’t get R to work as an add-in for Excel. But I’m looking forward to revisiting the visualization chapters.

The book is subtitled “A Desktop Quick Reference” and it fits that description perfectly. I’ll be referring to R in a Nutshell often.