Statistical computing – R

Theme Co-ordinator: Antonio Gasparrini

What is R?

R is a free programming language and software environment for statistical computing and graphics. It was created by Ross Ihaka and Robert Gentleman in 1996 at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, based on an implementation of the S programming language designed by John Chambers while at Bells Labs. The software is now maintained and developed by the R Development Core Team.

R is an integrated system of software facilities for data manipulation, calculation and graphical display. Its capabilities may be incremented via packages, pre-compiled set of functions available through the Comprehensive R Archive Network (CRAN), covering a very wide range of modern statistics.

R is an open-source software, freely available under the GNU General Public License, and pre-compiled binary versions are provided for various operating systems. Its main characteristics are the exceptionally flexible and sophisticated graphical tools, and the extensive programming facilities based on functional and object-oriented programming.


LSHTM researchers have been using R during the last years. Most disappointingly, this software is rarely exploited for teaching purposes, and many researchers within LSTHM are not yet aware of its potentials. Activities within the Centre for Statistical Methodology will be organized in order to promote the use and development of R within LSHTM, together with other free and open-source software.

R Courses and User Groups

There are no R courses currently taught within LSHTM at the moment. Introductory and more advanced courses on statistics and programming with R will be organized in the following months. User Groups meetings are in the process of being established at LSHTM. Information will be gathered by a survey which will be circulated shortly.

Useful R Links

The R Project: main page.
CRAN: Comprehensive R Archive Network.
Manuals: documents provided with the R implementation.
Documentation: freely available documentation, organized in more or less than 100 pages.
R Journal: freely available peer-reviewed journal of the R Project.
CRAN Task Views: collections of packages by topic areas of interest.