Discovering the R language

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Endorsed by tech giants like Uber, Google, Airbnb and Facebook – the R language is not only trusted by companies shaping the future of technology, but has been an important tool for academic and research communities for decades. 

Since it was first developed by Ross Ihaka and Robert Gentleman in 1993, a worldwide community of programmers has contributed to the R language being established as a top choice for data analysis and statistical software.

By becoming an industry-standard as one of the most commonly used languages in data analytics and data mining – according to Tiobe’s index – R is the world’s 11th most popular computer programming language for the year 2022.

 The R programming language revolution
The R programming language revolution

In this article, we’ll explore R’s key characteristics, discover how it is used by today’s software developers, and continue with why you should consider deploying this language for your company’s next IT project. 

What is the R programming language?

R is an open-source, free computer programming language that is widely used for data analysis and statistics. An absolute favorite amongst academics of various fields, this language is also applied in government IT infrastructures, as well as being widely adopted by the healthcare and consulting industries. 

Let’s have a look at some of the key features and characteristics of the R programming environment:

➨ Open-source code

➨ Highly extensible

➨ Highly active programming community

➨ Command-line interface

➨ Multiple third-party graphical user interfaces available 

➨ Interpreted language (does not need a compiler to run a program)

➨ Written mainly in C, Fortran and R itself (partially self-hosting)

➨ Report generation in many formats

➨ Capacity extended through user-created packages

➨ Data integration from APIs, servers, SPSS files and other formats

➨ Compiles and runs on a wide variety of UNIX platforms, Windows and MacOS

➨ Functional programming but has support for object-oriented programming

How is R used by software developers?

Data Visualization 

R is a one-stop IT solution for creating stunning data visualizations. From detailed static charts to elaborate and interactive flow diagrams, R’s strong graphical capabilities and extended libraries enable software developers to deliver online, immersive and data-driven storytelling.

Data Variety

Being able to handle a mix of structured and unstructured data, as well as to provide data modeling and data operation facilities because of its seamless interaction with databases, R is a programming language that offers data variety – the diversity of data in a data-collection space.

Data Wrangling

The extensive tool library available to R software developers can be used for data wrangling and manipulation, significantly reducing the time required to clean-up complex and inconsistent datasets, as well as enabling more efficient computation tasks and the further analysis of data. 

Database Interfacing

Within the R programming environment, software developers can take advantage of several available coding packages that can easily enable smooth compatibility and interaction with databases like the Open Database Connectivity Protocol, RmySQL, Oracle and many others. 

𝔸𝕣𝕖 𝕪𝕠𝕦 𝕝𝕠𝕠𝕜𝕚𝕟𝕘 𝕗𝕠𝕣 𝕒 𝕡𝕒𝕣𝕥𝕟𝕖𝕣 𝕔𝕒𝕡𝕒𝕓𝕝𝕖 𝕠𝕗 𝕡𝕣𝕠𝕕𝕦𝕔𝕚𝕟𝕘 𝕙𝕚𝕘𝕙 𝕢𝕦𝕒𝕝𝕚𝕥𝕪 𝕀𝕋 𝕕𝕖𝕧𝕖𝕝𝕠𝕡𝕞𝕖𝕟𝕥 𝕗𝕠𝕣 𝕪𝕠𝕦𝕣 𝕔𝕠𝕞𝕡𝕒𝕟𝕪?  𝕐𝕠𝕦 𝕙𝕒𝕧𝕖 𝕔𝕠𝕞𝕖 𝕥𝕠 𝕥𝕙𝕖 𝕣𝕚𝕘𝕙𝕥 𝕡𝕝𝕒𝕔𝕖, 𝕕𝕚𝕤𝕔𝕠𝕧𝕖𝕣 𝕠𝕦𝕣 𝕥𝕖𝕒𝕞 𝕠𝕗 𝕕𝕖𝕧𝕖𝕝𝕠𝕡𝕖𝕣𝕤.

Statistical Calculations

Regardless of complexity, R can perform a wide range of mathematical and statistical calculations. Most importantly, the R language is able to perform calculations fast. How fast? Fast enough for complex infrastructure projects that require processing of very large data sets. 

Machine Learning (ML)

R’s in-built advanced packages make it an ideal programming language for predictive analytics, the basis of machine learning software. Performing a range of complex calculation tasks with minimal effort, it’s no wonder that R is widely adopted across industries for machine learning. 

Comprehensive Environment

Versatile without a doubt, the comprehensive and flexible development environment offered by R essentially established the language as an ideal programming language to use for scientific and statistical computing, software development, as well as for web application development.

Distributed Computing

R packages like ddR and multiDplyr enable this programming language to deploy distributed computing to process large data sets – basically splitting tasks between multiple processing nodes in order to reduce computer processing time and ultimately to increase data efficiency.   

Programming has never been so accessible
Programming has never been so accessible

Why you should consider R for your next IT development project

While there are numerous benefits and potential applications associated with the R programming language, the 3 main reasons for considering R for your next IT development project are the following: 


As mentioned above, R is an open-source programming language that is available under GNU, or the General Public License. That means that anyone can download it and begin programming – even for commercial projects – without worrying about any restrictions or law violations. Combined with a supportive community of programmers around the world, this translates to major time and cost-reductions for companies of all sizes.

High Compatibility

Programming languages without cross-platform interoperability are a major problem for software developers everywhere. Not only does programming  incompatibility ultimately increase developers’ workload, but it also increases the overall inefficiency and complexity of the software development process. As R is compatible with all major platforms and operating systems, software compatibility is achieved in a breeze.


With the world widely embracing technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) – the need for data processing and analysis will only continue to increase in the future. Global demand for professional data analysts and data-analysis software is growing exponentially, and that’s why companies and programmers who invest in the R language will not only have a versatility advantage, but will also ensure a future-proof path to business success and innovation.   

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