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Key elements of the visualization process
Environment - the R Language
10. What is R?


The R programming language is very popular among mathematicians, especially statisticians. It is a free, comprehensive tool that is used for many statistical procedures and other applications – including making all kinds of charts and graphs. To learn more about R, check out its official site.

R is the name of both the programming language and the software environment we use to create our visualizations. It has a command line interface (like the Windows Command Line prompt or the old DOS interface), so you will be typing commands rather than dragging and dropping objects. (There are some graphical user interfaces, but we won't use them in this course.)

You can download various packages that extend the functionality of R. Aside from the core packages, which are included when you download the R environment, you can also find packages that deal with genetics, finance, spatial statistics, and many other things.

The package we'll be using is ggplot2. This package is designed to help you work with graphics in R. We'll explain more about ggplot as we use it.


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