Book Review

R Graphics Cookbook – Book Review

I have just finished looking through (and trying out) the recipes in R Graphics Cookbook, by Winston Chang. First of all, I'm very much a beginner in R, but it was possible to follow the examples.

For those wondering what R is – it is an interesting language for statistical computing and graphics. Usually I am more of a Delphi guy (although I have used many other languages in the past, and still use PHP when adequate), but R has a bunch of features and libraries that makes it easier for that area, and it is also used on a few courses – thus my interest.

One thing I really liked about the book is that the example data comes straight from a package. So you install and download them with a simple command in R when you start the book, and you just have to do a library(gcookbook) each time you use an example in a session. Very nice (vs downloading, setting a folder or using the full name for each file,etc).

The book seems to cover the material well enough, and the discussion section usually present useful options. For example, on the recipe Labeling Points in a Scatter Plot the basic solution is presented, and then it shows how to shift labels so they don't crowd the data points, or how to add only a few relevant labels. The examples I tried almost all worked (except for one that needed an extra library, which only took a install_packages call), which unfortunately is not true for many technical books.

Since my background only include the most common graphs, I also learned about a few other graph types, such as correlation matrix, dendograms, vector fields and choropleth map.

Overall, pretty good.

It is interesting to note that this was a free review copy – fortunate, too, since I had almost bought it a few days before getting an offer to review it.

You can get it directly from O'Reilly or other places. The advantage of O'Reilly is that their e-books are DRM-free (and usually available on mobi, PDF and ePub formats).

By Luiz A D R Marques

I've been developing software and selling it on-line since 1994. Current products include STG FolderPrint Plus - a tool to Print Folders, and STGThumb - HTML Album Generator, among others. Some of my other sites - Disk Usage, Directory Printer ,Print Folders and Jejum Intermitente .