I recently stumbled over R, a programming language for data analysis. R is open-source and available on all major platforms (Windows, Linux, Mac).

This post is about how to display (draw) a mathematical function with R.

There’s a very nice and interactive tutorial for R available over at codeschool.com. It’s free and takes about 3 - 4 hours to complete.

To draw a function, use the built-in function `curve()`

.

Let’s start with something simple:

`curve(x^2)`

This will plot the function *x²* and will look like this:

Since we didn’t specify any boundaries for the x and y axes, R used `0..1`

for the x axis and chose the y axis to fit.

Of course, we can manually specify the range for the values on the x axis:

`curve(x^2, -4, 3)`

This will plot *x²* with `-4..3`

:

As you can see in this plot, R makes the y axis match the required value range (here: `0..15`

).

Sometimes, however, this may not be desired. There are two ways to fix this.

First, you can specify the aspect ratio to be 1 (cause log scales are for quitters). In this case, the x and the y axes will use the same scale:

`curve(x^2, -4, 3, asp=1)`

will give us:

The other option is to explicitly specify the range for the y axis by using the `ylim`

parameter:

`curve(x^2, -4, 3, ylim=range(c(-1, 4)))`

will give us a y axis range of `-1..4`

:

For more information on `curve()`

, just type `?curve`

in R’s prompt.