Python or R for Data Analysis: Which Should I Learn?


If you’re getting began in information evaluation, you’ll discover that one of the necessary expertise is proficiency in a statistical programming language. Data analysts use SQL (Structured Query Language) to speak with databases, however with regards to cleansing, manipulating, analyzing, and visualizing information, you’re taking a look at both Python or R.

Python vs R: What’s the distinction? 

Both Python and R are free, open-source languages that may run on Windows, macOS, and Linux. Both can deal with nearly any data analysis task, and each are thought-about comparatively simple languages to be taught, particularly for newbies. So which must you select to be taught (or be taught first)? Before we dig into the variations, right here’s a broad overview of every language. 

What is Python?

Python is a high-level, general-purpose programming language recognized for its intuitive syntax that mimics pure language. You can use Python code for all kinds of duties, however three well-liked purposes embody:

Read extra: What Is Python Used For? A Beginner’s Guide to Using Python

What does “high-level” imply?

A high-level programming language incorporates a syntax that’s simple for people to learn and perceive. Low-level languages are these that may be simply understood by a machine. Examples of high-level languages embody Python, C++, C#, and Java.

When you write code in a high-level language, it will get transformed right into a low-level language, or machine code, that your pc can acknowledge and run.

What is R?

R is a software program setting and statistical programming language constructed for statistical computing and information visualization. R’s quite a few skills are likely to fall into three broad classes:

  • Manipulating information

  • Statistical evaluation

  • Visualizing information 

Python and R: By the numbers

According to a number of well-liked programming language indices, TIOBE [1], Stack Overflow [2], PYPL [3], and RedMonk, [4] Python is much and away the extra well-liked language throughout the broader tech group. 

While this doesn’t essentially imply it’s higher, it does counsel that it’s extra extensively used and should have a extra strong group for ongoing help and improvement.

How do I select between Python and R?

There’s no mistaken selection with regards to studying Python or R. Both are in-demand expertise and can will let you carry out nearly any information analytics process you’ll encounter. Which one is healthier for you’ll finally come all the way down to your background, pursuits, and profession targets. 

As you make your choice, listed below are some issues to think about.

Learning curve

Both Python and R are thought-about pretty simple languages to be taught. Python was initially designed for software program improvement. If you will have earlier expertise with Java or C++,  you might be able to choose up Python extra naturally than R. If you will have a background in statistics, then again, R may very well be a bit simpler.

Overall, Python’s easy-to-read syntax offers it a smoother studying curve. R tends to have a steeper studying curve at the start, however when you perceive easy methods to use its options, it will get considerably simpler. 

Tip: Once you’ve realized one programming language, it’s sometimes simpler to be taught one other one. 


In basic, it’s a good suggestion to “speak” the identical language because the crew you’ll be working with. This makes it simpler to share code and collaborate on tasks. 

If you’re simply beginning out, you might not know what firm you’ll ultimately work for. Take a take a look at just a few job listings for the businesses and industries you’re most considering. Do they have a tendency to record R or Python as a requirement? This may very well be a very good indication for which route to take your studying.

Strengths and weaknesses

While each Python and R can accomplish most of the similar information duties, they every have their very own distinctive strengths. If you recognize you’ll be spending a number of time on sure information duties, you may need to prioritize the language that excels at these duties.

Python is healthier for…R is healthier for…
Handling huge quantities of knowledgeCreating graphics and information visualizations
Building deep studying fashionsBuilding statistical fashions
Performing non-statistical duties, like internet scraping, saving to databases, and operating workflowsIts strong ecosystem of statistical packages

Career path

Think about how studying a programming language suits in together with your long term profession targets. If you’re passionate concerning the statistical calculation and information visualization parts of data analysis, R may very well be a very good match for you.

If, then again, you’re considering turning into a data scientist and dealing with massive information, synthetic intelligence, and deep studying algorithms, Python could be the higher match. 

The similar is true in case your private or skilled pursuits prolong past information and into programming, improvement, or different pc science fields. Python is a general-purpose language used for a a lot wider vary of duties than R.

How to be taught R or Python: Options to get began

Python and R are each wonderful languages for information. They’re additionally each acceptable for newbies with no earlier coding expertise. Luckily, irrespective of which language you select to pursue first, you’ll discover a variety of sources and supplies that will help you alongside the best way. These are only a few choices for getting began.

Earn a Professional Certificate

Earning a Google Data Analytics Professional Certificate or IBM Data Analyst Professional Certificate offers you a framework for studying a statistical programming language inside the better context of knowledge evaluation. The Google certificates teaches R, and the IBM certificates teaches Python. Both embody different job-ready expertise, like SQL, spreadsheets, and information visualization. Not solely are you able to be taught to program, you possibly can learn the way all these important information expertise work collectively.

If you’re considering beginning a profession as an information analyst, these applications are a good way to construct your basis by way of movies, assessments, interactive labs, and portfolio-ready tasks. Both might be accomplished in lower than six months.

Take a course

If you like specializing in one ability at a time (or in the event you’re including a brand new coding language to your current information analyst ability set), a course in Python or R might get you began. There are a ton of lessons on the market to select from. On Coursera, the preferred choices amongst learners are Programming for Everybody (Getting Started with Python) from the University of Michigan and R Programming from Johns Hopkins University.

Tip: For many learners, it might be higher to select one language and get proficient relatively than making an attempt to be taught each on the similar time. 

Try each by way of Guided Projects

Another nice approach to determine whether or not to be taught R or Python is to attempt them each out. Coursera’s Guided Projects supply a hands-on introduction in underneath two hours with out having to purchase or obtain any software program. 

With Getting Started with R, you can begin writing primary R instructions and learn to set up packages and import information units. With Introduction to Python, which takes underneath an hour to complete, you possibly can write a guessing recreation utility as you be taught to create variables, choice constructs, and loops.

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Article sources

1. TIOBE. “TIOBE Index for April 2021,” Accessed April 12, 2021.

2. Stack Overflow. “2020 Developer Survey,” Accessed April 12, 2021.

3. GitHub. “PYPL PopularitY of Programming Language,” Accessed April 12, 2021.

4. RedMonk. “The RedMonk Programming Language Rankings: January 2021,” Accessed April 12, 2021.


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