R is an open source, freely distributed and multiplatform command-line software that provides an integrated suite of software facilities, which can be easily used for data calculation, manipulation and graphical display. In other words, R is a programming language and environment for statistical computing and graphics.
It’s a GNU project similar to the S programming language and development environment created by John Chambers and colleagues at Bell Laboratories, which was previously known as AT&T, now Lucent Technologies. It comes with comprehensive documentation that is available on the project’s homepage.
Features at a glance
Key features include an effective, well-developed and simple programming language, useful data storage and handling functions, a set of operators for array calculations, especially matrices, a coherent, large and integrated set of intermediate utilities for data analysis, as well as graphical functions for data display and analysis.
It can be easily extended with additional functionality, comes with a wide range of graphical and statistical techniques, including nonlinear and linear modelling, time-series analysis, clustering, classification and classical statistical tests. R can be used to produce publication-quality plots, including mathematical formulae and symbols.
In addition, users will be able to link and call C++, C and Fortran code at runtime, add extra functionality by specifying new functions, follow the algorithmic choices made, as well as to manipulate R objects directly by writing C code. Its built-in plugin architecture allows you to easily extend its default functions through packages.
Under the hood and supported OSes
R is a cross-platform command-line application that can be used on on a wide range of GNU/Linux and UNIX-like operating systems, including BSD, as well as on Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. It is implemented in the C programming language and has been successfully tested on both 32-bit and 64-bit hardware platforms.