R is a powerful software system designed for manipulating, analyzing, and graphing data. Essentially anything you can do using other popular off-the-shelf statistical software can also be done in R. In addition, R is an integrated programming environment, allowing users to script their own functions (or modify existing ones) to do customized tasks. This provides much of the flexibility of languages such as C, but with the advantage of building upon R's robust numerical routines, data management functions, and graphing tools. While the base installation will be sufficient for many users, thousands of downloadable “packages” have been developed for accomplishing specialized tasks, often using cutting-edge methods. R is supported by a large and active community of developers, including many ecologists and other scientists, and is highly-regarded at NCEAS because it meets all of the main criteria outlined on the Scientific Computing for Ecologists page.
Where to find R add-on packages…