Chapter 4 Data Importing and “Tidy” Data

In Subsection 1.2.1, we introduced the concept of a data frame in R: a rectangular spreadsheet-like representation of data where the rows correspond to observations and the columns correspond to variables describing each observation. In Section 1.4, we started exploring our first data frame: the flights data frame included in the nycflights13 package. In Chapter 2, we created visualizations based on the data included in flights and other data frames such as weather. In Chapter 3, we learned how to take existing data frames and transform/modify them to suit our ends.

In this final chapter of the “Data Science with tidyverse” portion of the book, we extend some of these ideas by discussing a type of data formatting called “tidy” data. You will see that having data stored in “tidy” format is about more than just what the everyday definition of the term “tidy” might suggest: having your data “neatly organized.” Instead, we define the term “tidy” as it’s used by data scientists who use R, outlining a set of rules by which data is saved.

Knowledge of this type of data formatting was not necessary for our treatment of data visualization in Chapter 2 and data wrangling in Chapter 3. This is because all the data used were already in “tidy” format. In this chapter, we’ll now see that this format is essential to using the tools we covered up until now. Furthermore, it will also be useful for all subsequent chapters in this book when we cover regression and statistical inference. First, however, we’ll show you how to import spreadsheet data in R.

Needed packages

Let’s load all the packages needed for this chapter (this assumes you’ve already installed them). If needed, read Section 1.3 for information on how to install and load R packages.