In the previous post, we learnt to install RStudio. In this post, we will learn about variables and data types. You can skip this post, if you have prior experience in any other programming language.
What is a variable?
- variables are the fundamental elements of any programming language
- they are used to represent values that are likely to change
- they reference memory locations that store information/data
Let us use a simple case study to understand variables. Suppose you are computing the area of a circle whose radius is 3. In R, you can do this straight away as shown below:
3.14 * 3 * 3
##  28.26
But you cannot reuse the radius or the area computed in any other analysis or computation. Let us see how variables can change the above scenario and help us in reusing values and computations.
A variable consists of 3 components:
- variable name
- assignment operator
- variable value
We can store the value of the radius by creating a variable and assigning it the value. In this case, we create a variable
radius and assign it the value
3 using the assignment operator
radius <- 3 radius
##  3
Now that we have learnt to create variables, let us see how we can use them for other computations. For our case study,
we will use the
radius variable to compute the area of a circle.
We will create two variables,
pi, and use them to compute the area of a circle and store it in another variable
# assign value 3 to variable radius radius <- 3 # assign value 3.14 to variable pi pi <- 3.14 # compute area of circle area <- pi * radius * radius # call radius radius
##  3
# call area area
##  28.26
Components of a Variable
- Name must begin with a letter. Do not use numbers, dollar sign (
$) or underscore (
- The name can contain numbers or underscore. Do not use dash (
-) or period (
- Do not use the names of keywords and avoid using the names of built in functions.
- Variables are case sensitive;
Averagewould be different variables.
- Use names that are descriptive. Generally, variable names should be nouns.
- If the name is made of more than one word, use underscore to separate the words.
- Variables are the building blocks of a programming language
- Variables reference memory locations that store information/data
- An assignment operator
<-assigns values to a variable
- A variable has the following components:
- memory address
- data type
- Certain rules must be followed while naming variables