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I'd like to know how to learn the R language as 'programming' language as opposed to learning it as a statistical system. My question is prompted by a lack of understanding of such functions as parse, eval, etc. which may not find frequent use by an R user with a 'statistics' persuasion.

Edit: I've been exploring such tools like Rpy RSPerl rJava and wish to (at the very least) be able to understand concepts that facilitate R's communication with other programming languages.

The availability of Web applications for R (R-PHP, RApache, etc.) is another motivating factor for me to gain a deeper, more structural understanding of R.

Last but not least, I'd like to be able to write R packages for which such understanding would be beneficial if not necessary

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There are many good resources on the R homepage, but in particular, read "An Introduction to R" and "The R Language Definition".

You can also go through the following comprehensive and end-to-end tutorial that covers all the basic and major topics in R:

https://intellipaat.com/tutorial/r-programming/

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