Learning Data Science with R: Variables, Data types and Operators

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Just like other programming languages, the basic building blocks of the R language are its variables, data types and operators. Without knowing the basics, it is quite impossible to excel at R and eventually data science. So, let’s start with the basics.

Variables in R

In simple language, a variable is a temporary data storage space. A variable can store any type of data in R. There is no need to define the data type like in some programming language such as C, C++, Java , C#, etc. Variables in R are dynamically type allocated just like Python.


variable_name = value 

(Variable assignment is discussed below in detail.)

Here, the variable name can be anything of your choice which starts with either alphabet, or dot(.). The variable should not start with number or underscore and end with %. The legal variable name includes var1, var_3, .var_name, var.name. Some of the invalid variable names are _var2, 1var, _var_name, .1var.

Data Types in R

There are various data types used in R. Some of the common data types used are:

  • Numeric : Numeric data is the most common data type used in R. As the name suggests it consists of numbers: both decimal and floating point. Example: 8, 3892.72, 190
    Variable assignment : num1 <- 5
  • Character : Character data type encompasses the alphabets, words and sentences. The value is enclosed within double quotation marks as :
    char1 = “Sam” , char2 <- "Hello there"
  • Logical : Logical data type consists of Boolean data TRUE and FALSE. Eg.
    log1 = TRUE , log2 = FALSE
  • Complex : As the name suggests the complex data type consists of complex numbers. Eg.
    comp1 = 5+9i , comp2 = -9–5i

Similarly, there are other data types as well such as Integer and Raw. But these data types are not used much.

The data type of the variable can be checked with the following syntax:

[1] "numeric"

(Output was obtained using RStudio Console.)

Operators in R

An operator is used to command a compiler to perform a certain mathematical or logical operation on the operands. There are 5 commonly used operators in R. They are:

  • Assignment operator: Assignment operator is used to assign value(s) to the variables. There are 3 ways of assigning a value in R. We can use either =, <- or ->. Similarly, ->> and <<- are also used.
var1 = 3
var1 <- 6
9 -> var1
  • Arithmetic operator: Arithmetic operators are used to perform the major arithmetic operations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. The operators used are: +, - , * and / .
num1 = 100
num2 = 10
[1] 110
[1] 90
[1] 1000
[1] 10
  • Relational operator: Relation operator is used to compare two or more values or variables. Some commonly used operators are: < , > , == , != , <= and >= .
num1 = 100
num2= 10
num1 == num2
num1 < num2
num1 != num2
[1] TRUE
  • Logical operator: Logical operators are used to perform logical operations such as logical AND and logical OR. The operators used are : | , & , ! .
log1 = TRUE
log2 = FALSE
#OR operation
log1 | log1
[1] TRUE
log1 | log2
[1] TRUE
log2 | log2
# AND operation
log1 & log2
#NOT operation

There are other miscellaneous operators used such as: : , %in% , %*% .

I’ve used RStudio to perform the calculations discussed above. A brief article regarding the usability and setup will come in a few days.

This is the second article in the series Learning Data Science with R . I’ve written what I have learned. Some information may not be complete so refer to other sources as well.




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Dhiraj Raut

Dhiraj Raut

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