December 21, 2010

R programming books

Filed under: R — Tags: , , , — csgillespie @ 3:05 pm

My sabbatical is rapidly coming to an end, and I have to start thinking more and more about teaching. Glancing over my module description for the introductory computational statistics course I teach, I noticed that it’s a bit light on recommend/background reading. In fact it has only two books:

  • A first course in statistical programming with R (Braun & Murdoch)
    • Pros: I quite like this book (hence the reason I put it on my list). It has a nice collection of exercises, it “looks nice” and doesn’t assume knowledge of programming. It also doesn’t assume (or try to teach) any statistics.
    • Cons: When describing for loops and functions the examples aren’t very statistical. For example, it uses Fibonacci sequences in the while loop section and the sieve of Eratosthenes for if statements.
  • An introduction to R (Venables & Smith)
    • Pros: Simple, short and to the point. Free copies available. Money from the book goes to the R project.
    • Cons: More a R reference guide than a textbook.

What other good R books could I recommend? In particular, I’m looking for books that:

  • Assume no prior knowledge of programming.
  • Assume very little knowledge of statistics. For example, no regression.
  • Doesn’t try to teach statistics. So no “R with ….” type books.
  • Are cheap!

Suggestions  welcome (needed!)



  1. The R Programming wikibook is still in development but may be a good reference :

    Comment by PAC — December 21, 2010 @ 3:26 pm

  2. How about Zuur(2010). A Beginner´s Guide to R?

    For students probably a bit to expensive, but if the university has a Springer licence…

    Comment by EDi — December 21, 2010 @ 4:57 pm

  3. I strongly recommended

    The Basics of S-PLUS
    by Andreas Krause, Melvin Olson


    Comment by Gary — December 21, 2010 @ 5:18 pm

  4. What about:

    Chambers (2008) “Software for Data Analysis: Programming with R

    or the first half of Jones, Maillardet and Robinson (2009) “Introduction to Scientific Programming and Simulation Using R

    I suspect the Chambers book is more likely to fit the parameters mentioned above, but the first half of Jones et al is also good.

    Comment by Dave Armstrong — December 21, 2010 @ 6:10 pm

  5. I recently picked up a copy of R in a Nutshell. More introductory than anything else, but it is both readable and useful as a reference.

    Comment by jambarama — December 21, 2010 @ 6:17 pm

  6. 1. IPSUR by Kerns

    2. Bayesian Computation with R by Albert

    Comment by Iwan Zotow — December 21, 2010 @ 6:32 pm

  7. I would suggest:
    R In a Nutshell by Joseph Adler (O’Reilley, Dec 2009) paperback.

    640 pages for $38 discount price.
    Very comprehensive. Good as Reference as well.

    Comment by Andy — December 21, 2010 @ 8:51 pm

  8. I wrote an R text for incoming graduate students highlighting how it is a versatile tool that can be used in many situations.

    It is under the Creative Commons License and can be downloaded from:


    Rodney J. Dyer, PhD

    Comment by Rodney Dyer — December 21, 2010 @ 11:20 pm

  9. I’ve found Hadley Wickham’s devtools wiki (a work in progress) really helpful.


    Comment by Jeromy Anglim — December 22, 2010 @ 1:24 am

  10. At the risk of being self-serving, I’d like to second the recommendation to our book, “Introduction to Scientific Programming and Simulation Using R”. It costs about the same as some of the others recommended here, and it’s great! 🙂 It was refined from a number of years of teaching experience in programming, so it’s explicitly designed for classroom or self-study efforts.

    Comment by Andrew Robinson — December 22, 2010 @ 2:45 am

  11. Have a look here, I’m sure your question has already been asked


    Comment by Graham — December 22, 2010 @ 9:16 am

    • I had a look, but didn’t see any relevant questions.

      Comment by csgillespie — December 22, 2010 @ 1:14 pm

  12. The R Inferno – Patrick Burns

    Comment by aL3xa — December 22, 2010 @ 1:08 pm

  13. Many thanks for the comments/suggestions.

    I’ve ordered a couple of books and will write a summary blog post early in the New Year.

    Comment by csgillespie — December 22, 2010 @ 5:40 pm

  14. There’s another tailored for you, because this one’s focus only on programming, but it’s in french, Book :http://cran.r-project.org/doc/contrib/Goulet_introduction_programmation_S.pdf

    Comment by dickoa — December 22, 2010 @ 6:04 pm

  15. I have found both Murrell’s R Graphics and Wickham’s ggplot2 to be pretty indispensable. There’s no point in analyzing data if you cannot effectively communicate the results, and I find R’s data plotting packages fairly arcane and poorly documented in online sources.

    Comment by Tom H — December 28, 2010 @ 9:34 pm

  16. […] computing, introductory, programming, R, statistics, teaching — csgillespie @ 10:18 pm In a recent post, I asked for suggestions for introductory R computing books. In particular, I was looking for books […]

    Pingback by R programming books (updated) « Why? — January 28, 2011 @ 10:19 pm

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