University of Malta

[R]efresh Course
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[R]efresh was an introductory course in R which was held between the 31st August and 2nd September 2016 by Mr. Joseph Bonello from the Faculty of Information & Communication Technology. The course was held at ICT Informatics Lab Room -1b02, Faculty of ICT, University of Malta Campus from 9.00am till 1.00pm

R is a free software programming language and a software environment for statistical computing and graphics. The R language is widely used among statisticians and data miners for developing statistical software and data analysis. It was designed by Ross Ihaka and Robert Gentleman at University of Auckland, New Zealand in 1993.  

R is a tool that is widely used in data analysis contexts in various fields, including the life sciences. Other statistical programmes like SPSS and SAS are limited in that they have to rely on algorithms that have been already developed for them by SAS/SPSS employed programmers. Moreover, these programmes are not free. On the other hand, R, apart from allowing you to use functions that have been developed by statistical researchers, it also allows you to create your own. R is also free and once experienced enough, users are almost unlimited in their ability to create functions.

This introductory course to R was designed for individuals with no prior programming experience. It covered R essentials, such as R syntax and data structures, how to manipulate data in R, perform basic data analysis and create plots.  

The following features in R were covered:

  • Introduction to R - installation of R and introducing basic features
  • Vectors and Matrices
  • Introduction to functions and basic programming principles in R
  • Introduction to Data Frames and functions used to load/save data from/to files
  • Manipulating Data Frames - Using dplyr to manipulate data frames
  • Basic Visualisation - Using the Base Package to visualise data
  • Advanced Visualisations using ggplot2

Course material can be found here. To follow the course material, it is recommended to download both R and RStudio. 


What is the difference between R and RStudio?

R the application is installed on your computer and uses your personal computer resources to process R programming language.  RStudio integrates with R as an IDE (Integrated Development Environment) to provide further functionality.  RStudio combines a source code editor, build automation tools and a debugger.

R can be downloaded from 

RStudio can be downloaded from




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Last Updated: 15 December 2016

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