R is an open source and free programming language for statistical computing and graphics. With more than 13,500 indexed packages (as of May 2019, as you can see in the following graph) and a large number of applications for statistics, machine learning, data mining, and data visualizations, R is one of the most popular statistical programming languages. One of the main reasons for the fast growth of R in recent years is the open source structure of R, where users are also the main package developers. Among the package developers, you can find individuals like us, as well as giant companies such as Microsoft, Google, and Facebook. This reduces the dependency of the users significantly with any specific company (as opposed to traditional statistical software), allowing for fast knowledge sharing and a diverse portfolio of solutions.
The following graph shows the amount packages that have been shared on CRAN over time:
You can see that, whenever we come across any statistical problem, it is likely that someone has already faced the same problem and developed a package with a solution (and if not, you should create one!). Furthermore, there are a vast amount of packages for time series analysis, from tools for data preparations and visualization to advance statistical modeling applications. Packages such as forecast, stats, zoo, xts, and lubridate made R the leading software for time series analysis. In the A brief introduction to R section in this chapter, we will discuss the key packages we will use throughout this book in more detail.
Now, we will learn how to install R.