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DSI Workshop: R Fundamentals – Part 1

January 26, 2018 @ 9:30 am - 12:00 pm

R Fundamentals – Part 1


This 3-part workshop series led by DSI Director and Professor of Statistics Duncan Temple Lang explores the underlying computational model of the R language. It is strongly encouraged, although not required, that you attend all three sessions as they build upon each other. A longer version of this series was taught in the DSI as a mini-course in summer 2017.

The aim of this series is to help participants understand the
relatively small but fundamental computational model underlying the R
language. This will help you reason about code before you write
and run it, and to debug it if it doesn’t do what you want. A sound
understanding of this computational model makes programming in R much
easier and more productive. Basically, we want you to understand how
the R interpreter works.


This is *not* an introduction to R. Participants are expected to have an
elementary understanding and prior experience using R, be comfortable
with basic R syntax, and to have it pre-installed and running on their laptops.
This series is appropriate for motivated beginners as well as intermediate
to advanced users who want a better understanding of base R. It is open
to UC Davis faculty, graduate students, postdocs, staff, and undergraduates;
DSI affiliates receive priority registration.



  • Goal of this workshop series is to learn the grammar of the R language (not just the vocabulary!):
  • how R actually works
  • be able to reason about R code
  • what R does and how to do things
  • increase productivity and confidence in using R


  • Part 1:
  • REPL: Read, Evaluate, Print, Loop
  • Read includes parsing (R assesses whether the command is grammatically correct)
  • It can be helpful to know whether an error is in the parse or eval step
  • Parsing: grammatical construction
  • If you get an error, use the parse() functionality to check
  • class() tells you what an object is
  • Evaluation, Function calls
  • everything in R is a function call
  • how do you ask if something is a function? Example: get(“+”) will tell you that + is a primitive

Part 2: Data types, subsetting
Part 3: Functions, debugging formula, S3 & S4


January 26, 2018
9:30 am - 12:00 pm
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Data Science Initiative


DSI Classroom
360 Shields Library
Davis, CA 95616 United States
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