A growing number of data analysts inside corporations and academia are using a popular, and free, programming language called R, reports the New York Times. It has quickly found a following because statisticians, engineers, and scientists without computer programming skills find it easy to use. "R is really important to the point that it’s hard to overvalue it," said Daryl Pregibon, a research scientist at Google, which uses the software widely. "It allows statisticians to do very intricate and complicated analyses without knowing the blood and guts of computing systems." It is also free. R is an open-source program, and its popularity reflects a shift in the type of software used in schools and corporations. R is similar to other programming languages, like C, Java, and Perl, in that it helps people perform a wide variety of computing tasks by giving them access to various commands. For statisticians, however, R is particularly useful because it contains a number of built-in mechanisms for organizing data, running calculations on the information, and creating graphical representations of data sets. Some people familiar with R describe it as a supercharged version of Microsoft’s Excel spreadsheet software that can help illuminate data trends more clearly than is possible by entering information into rows and columns…

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