A brief overview of programming, programming languages, and the R programming language
The R Programming language is a popular programming language for statisticians and data scientists alike due to its ability to handle statistical analyses and graphics. This article marks the first article in a series of articles providing an introduction to the R programming language and its potential applications. Before diving into the intricacies of the R programming language, this article seeks to introduce programming, programming languages, and the R programming language.
What is programming
Before starting to learn how to program in R, it is first imperative to understand the purpose of programming. We previously dedicated an article in our Python Crash Course to this subject and have briefly paraphrased our earlier article below.
Merrian-Webster defines a program as a plan or system under which an action may be taken towards a goal. Programming a computer involves the development of the plan in the form of computer code. This plan is then provided to the computer to execute. The computer executes the provided code as written and the result of the program is returned to the user.
The usefulness of programming is twofold. First, computers can execute operations much faster than humans. Simple process that take a long time to do manually can be greatly sped up by the use of a computer program. Secondly, computer programs are reusable. Once a program has been written, it can be used over and over again anytime in the future.
What are programming languages
The process of communicating the user defined plan to the computer involves the use of a programming language. Programming languages function as an intermediary between human language and computer language. Programmers will write code in a programming language and use another program to convert the written code into a form the machine can understand. Once a program is converted into machine language, the computer can then execute the instructions detailed in the program.
It is helpful to think of programming languages as similar to spoken languages. While the syntax and pronunciation may be different, the exact same message can be conveyed to the listener. For example, hello can be spoken in English, Spanish, French and still convey…