After two years of writing and editing and proof reading and checking my book, R for Everyone is finally out!

There are so many people who helped me along the way, especially my editor Debra Williams, production editor Caroline Senay and the man who recruited me to write it in the first place, Paul Dix.  Even more people helped throughout the long process, but with so many to mention I’ll leave that in the acknowledgements page.

Online resources for the book are available ( and will continue to be updated.

As of now the three major sites to purchase the book are Amazon, Barnes & Noble (available in stores January 3rd) and InformIT.  And of course digital versions are available.

A friend recently posted the following the problem:

There are 10 green balls, 20 red balls, and 25 blues balls in a a jar. I choose a ball at random. If I choose a green then I take out all the green balls, if i choose a red ball then i take out all the red balls, and if I choose, a blue ball I take out all the blue balls, What is the probability that I will choose a red ball on my second try?

The math works out fairly easily. It’s the probability of first drawing a green ball AND then drawing a red ball, OR the probability of drawing a blue ball AND then drawing a red ball.

\frac{10}{10+20+25} * \frac{20}{20+25} + \frac{25}{10+20+25} * \frac{20}{10+20} = 0.3838

But I always prefer simulations over probability so let’s break out the R code like we did for the Monty Hall Problem and calculating lottery odds.  The results are after the break.

Continue reading

plot of chunk plot-ggplot

For a d3 bar plot visit

I finally compiled the data from all the pizza polling I’ve been doing at the New York R meetups. The data are available as json at

This is easy enough to plot in R using ggplot2.

pizzaJson <- fromJSON(file = "")
pizza <- ldply(pizzaJson,
##   polla_qid      Answer Votes pollq_id                Question
## 1         2   Excellent     0        2  How was Pizza Mercato?
## 2         2        Good     6        2  How was Pizza Mercato?
## 3         2     Average     4        2  How was Pizza Mercato?
## 4         2        Poor     1        2  How was Pizza Mercato?
## 5         2 Never Again     2        2  How was Pizza Mercato?
## 6         3   Excellent     1        3 How was Maffei's Pizza?
##            Place      Time TotalVotes Percent
## 1  Pizza Mercato 1.344e+09         13  0.0000
## 2  Pizza Mercato 1.344e+09         13  0.4615
## 3  Pizza Mercato 1.344e+09         13  0.3077
## 4  Pizza Mercato 1.344e+09         13  0.0769
## 5  Pizza Mercato 1.344e+09         13  0.1538
## 6 Maffei's Pizza 1.348e+09          7  0.1429
ggplot(pizza, aes(x = Place, y = Percent, group = Answer, color = Answer)) + 
    geom_line() + theme(axis.text.x = element_text(angle = 46, hjust = 1), legend.position = "bottom") + 
    labs(x = "Pizza Place", title = "Pizza Poll Results")

plot of chunk plot-ggplot

But given this is live data that will change as more polls are added I thought it best to use a plot that automatically updates and is interactive. So this gave me my first chance to need rCharts by Ramnath Vaidyanathan as seen at October’s meetup.

pizzaPlot <- nPlot(Percent ~ Place, data = pizza, type = "multiBarChart", group = "Answer")
pizzaPlot$xAxis(axisLabel = "Pizza Place", rotateLabels = -45)
pizzaPlot$yAxis(axisLabel = "Percent")
pizzaPlot$chart(reduceXTicks = FALSE)
pizzaPlot$print("chart1", include_assets = TRUE)

Unfortunately I cannot figure out how to insert this in WordPress so please see the chart at Or see the badly sized one below.

There are still a lot of things I am learning, including how to use a categorical x-axis natively on linecharts and inserting chart titles. I found a workaround for the categorical x-axis by using tickFormat but that is not pretty. I also would like to find a way to quickly switch between a line chart and a bar chart. Fitting more labels onto the x-axis or perhaps adding a scroll bar would be nice too.


Attending this week’s Strata conference it was easy to see quite how prolific the NYC Data Mafia is when it comes to writing.  Some of the found books:

And, of course, my book will be out soon to join them.

The wonderful people at Gilt are having me teach an introductory course on R this Friday.

The class starts with the very basics such as variable types, vectors, data.frames and matrices.  After that we explore munging data with aggregate, plyr and reshape2.  Once the data is prepared we will use ggplot2 to visualize it and then fit models using lm, glm and decision trees.

Most of the material comes from my upcoming book R for Everyone.

Participants are encouraged to bring computers so they can code along with the live examples.  They should also have R and RStudio preinstalled.

Michael Malecki recently shared a link to a Business Insider article that discussed the Monty Hall Problem.

The problem starts with three doors, one of which has a car and two of which have a goat. You choose one door at random and then the host reveals one door (not the one you chose) that holds a goat. You can then choose to stick with your door or choose the third, remaining door.

Probability theory states that people who switch win the car two-thirds of the time and those who don’t switch only win one-third of time.

But people often still do not believe they should switch based on the probability argument alone. So let’s run some simulations.

This function randomly assigns goats and cars behind three doors, chooses a door at random, reveals a goat door, then either switches doors or does not.

monty <- function(switch=TRUE)
    # randomly assign goats and cars
    doors <- sample(x=c("Car", "Goat", "Goat"), size=3, replace=FALSE)

    # randomly choose a door
    doorChoice <- sample(1:3, size=1)

    # get goat doors
    goatDoors <- which(doors == "Goat")
    # show a door with a goat
    goatDoor <- goatDoors[which(goatDoors != doorChoice)][1]

        # if we are switching choose the other remaining door
        return(doors[-c(doorChoice, goatDoor)])
        # otherwise keep the current door

Now we simulate switching 10,000 times and not switching 10,0000 times

withSwitching <- replicate(n = 10000, expr = monty(switch = TRUE), simplify = TRUE)
withoutSwitching <- replicate(n = 10000, expr = monty(switch = FALSE), simplify = TRUE)

## [1] "Goat" "Car"  "Car"  "Goat" "Car"  "Goat"
## [1] "Goat" "Car"  "Car"  "Car"  "Car"  "Car"

mean(withSwitching == "Car")
## [1] 0.6678
mean(withoutSwitching == "Car")
## [1] 0.3408

Plotting the results really shows the difference.

## Loading required package: ggplot2
## Loading required package: scales
qplot(withSwitching, geom = "bar", fill = withSwitching) + scale_fill_manual("Prize", 
    values = c(Car = muted("blue"), Goat = "orange")) + xlab("Switch") + ggtitle("Monty Hall with Switching")

qplot(withoutSwitching, geom = "bar", fill = withoutSwitching) + scale_fill_manual("Prize", 
    values = c(Car = muted("blue"), Goat = "orange")) + xlab("Don't Switch") + 
    ggtitle("Monty Hall without Switching")

(How are these colors? I’m trying out some new combinations.)

This clearly shows that switching is the best strategy.

The New York Times has a nice simulator that lets you play with actual doors.

plot of chunk map-plot

Given the warnings for today’s winter storm, or lack of panic, I thought it would be a good time to plot the NYC evacuation maps using R. Of course these are already available online, provided by the city, but why not build them in R as well?

I obtained the shapefiles from NYC Open Data on February 28th, so it’s possible they are the new shapefiles redrawn after Hurricane Sandy, but I am not certain.

First we need the appropriate packages which are mostly included in maptools, rgeos and ggplot2.

## Loading required package: maptools 
## Loading required package: foreign 
## Loading required package: sp 
## Loading required package: lattice 
## Checking rgeos availability: TRUE 
## Loading required package: rgeos 
## Loading required package: stringr 
## Loading required package: plyr 
## rgeos: (SVN revision 348) GEOS runtime version: 3.3.5-CAPI-1.7.5 Polygon ## checking: TRUE 
## Loading required package: ggplot2 
require(plyr) require(grid) 
## Loading required package: grid 

Then we read in the shape files, fortify them to turn them into a data.frame for easy plotting then join that back into the original data to get zone information.

# read the shape file evac <- readShapeSpatial("../data/Evac_Zones_with_Additions_20121026/Evac_Zones_with_Additions_20121026.shp") # necessary for some of our work gpclibPermit() 
## [1] TRUE 
# create ID variable evac@data$id <- rownames(evac@data) # fortify the shape file evac.points <- fortify(evac, region = "id") # join in info from data evac.df <- join(evac.points, evac@data, by = "id") # modified data head(evac.df) 
## long lat order hole piece group id Neighbrhd CAT1NNE Shape_Leng ## 1 1003293 239790 1 FALSE 1 0.1 0 <NA> A 9121 ## 2 1003313 239782 2 FALSE 1 0.1 0 <NA> A 9121 ## 3 1003312 239797 3 FALSE 1 0.1 0 <NA> A 9121 ## 4 1003301 240165 4 FALSE 1 0.1 0 <NA> A 9121 ## 5 1003337 240528 5 FALSE 1 0.1 0 <NA> A 9121 ## 6 1003340 240550 6 FALSE 1 0.1 0 <NA> A 9121 ## Shape_Area ## 1 2019091 ## 2 2019091 ## 3 2019091 ## 4 2019091 ## 5 2019091 ## 6 2019091 
# as opposed to the original data head(evac@data) 
## Neighbrhd CAT1NNE Shape_Leng Shape_Area id ## 0 <NA> A 9121 2019091 0 ## 1 <NA> A 12250 54770 1 ## 2 <NA> A 10013 1041886 2 ## 3 <NA> B 11985 3462377 3 ## 4 <NA> B 5816 1515518 4 ## 5 <NA> B 5286 986675 5 

Now, I’ve begun working on a package to make this step, and later ones easier, but it’s far from being close to ready for production. For those who want to see it (and contribute) it is available at The idea is to make mapping (including faceting!) doable with one or two lines of code.

Now it is time for the plot.

ggplot(evac.df, aes(x = long, y = lat)) + geom_path(aes(group = group)) + geom_polygon(aes(group = group, fill = CAT1NNE)) + list(theme(panel.grid.major = element_blank(), panel.grid.minor = element_blank(), axis.text.x = element_blank(), axis.text.y = element_blank(), axis.ticks = element_blank(), panel.background = element_blank())) + coord_equal() + labs(x = NULL, y = NULL) + theme(plot.margin = unit(c(1, 1, 1, 1), "mm")) + scale_fill_discrete("Zone") 

plot of chunk map-plot

There are clearly a number of things I would change about this plot including filling in the non-evacuation regions, connecting borders and smaller margins. Perhaps some of this can be accomplished by combining this information with another shapefile of the city, but that is beyond today’s code.