Introducing R to a non-programmer, in an hour

Posted to Coding  |  Tags:  |  Nathan Yau

Biostatistics PhD candidate Alyssa Frazee was tasked with teaching her sister, an undergraduate in sociology, how to use R. She had only one hour.

Once you load in a dataset, things start to get fun. We learned a whole bunch of stuff from this data frame, like how to do basic tabulations and calculate summary statistics, how to figure out if you have missing data, and how to fit a simple linear model. This part was pretty fun because my sister started leading the session: instead of me saying “I’m going to show you how to do this,” it was her asking “Hey, could we make a scatterplot?” or “Do you think we could put the best-fit line on that plot?” I was really glad this happened — I hope it meant she was engaged and enjoying herself!

This is the nice thing about R. There are so many built-in functions and packages that you can get something useful with a few lines of code, and you don’t really even have to know what a function is to get started (although you should eventually). Then you can go as far down the rabbit hole as you want.

Favorites

Jobs Charted by State and Salary

Jobs and pay can vary a lot depending on where you live, based on 2013 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Here’s an interactive to look.

How You Will Die

So far we’ve seen when you will die and how other people tend to die. Now let’s put the two together to see how and when you will die, given your sex, race, and age.

The Changing American Diet

See what we ate on an average day, for the past several decades.

Divorce and Occupation

Some jobs tend towards higher divorce rates. Some towards lower. Salary also probably plays a role.