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Coursera Offering Courses in R and Introductory Statistics

WBY's picture
Joined: 2010-07-24

R is a statistical programming language that is a handy tool for astronomical data analysis. Grant Foster uses R extensively in analysis examples in his book Analyzing Light Curves, A Practical Guide

Coursera is offering a 4 week course in R programming, "Computing for Data Analysis", beginning on 9/23/2013. All Coursera courses are free and are usually outstanding. This one is a Johns Hopkins course given by Roger Peng. 

Also if you are interested in learning more about statistical techniques for error and data analysis Coursera has a beginner course or, for those of us who had courses in statistics in the middle ages, a refresher. This one is a Princeton University course and seems to be the equivalent of the introductory offering taught by Burton Malkiel when I was an undergrad. The course is Statistics 1. It is 12 weeks long and starts 9/22/2013. 

Brad Walter, WBY

Corsera courses
SXN's picture
Joined: 2010-03-12

Thanks for pointing that out, Brad. I have taken several of the Coursera MOOCs based on your recommendation, and I agree they are mostly excellent. I am already enrolled in the Statistics One course you refer to, and it would be fun to have several AAVSO members join together and form a study and discussion group. If you're interested in doing so, contact me off list at

I don't think I could take both at the same time. These are serious courses that require a significant amount of reading and course work. But I will put the R course on my watch list and wait for it to be offered again.

Mike Simonsen (SXN)

Coursera "R" Course
WBY's picture
Joined: 2010-07-24


I am replying on-line in case anyone else has the same question. yes the course is given on-line. Coursera courses utilize video lectures- often with animagtions and graphics, weekly exercises and projects. Exercises (aka quizes)  are usually graded immediately when submitted. Assignments sometimes require peer review, and if they do, each class member is required to review 5 other class members assignments using a structured rubric. It works quite well. Ther are also on-line discussion groups organized by lecture, exercise and assignment plus some "off topic" free-form discussion groups. Finally there ae work groups that are formed by members of the class around any theme a member of the class chooses to pick (within the limits of ethics and decorum, naturally). AAVSO members could form an AAVSO workgroup for example. I know Mike Simonsen is interested in forming such a group for the statistics 1 course. 


I hope this answers your question. The page to join Coursera (it's free) is .

course listings can be found at . 

Don't forget Grant Foster's
wel's picture
Joined: 2010-07-26

Don't forget Grant Foster's other, more recent book "Understanding Statistics: Theory and Practice".

I own both this new one and the one you mention and they are both excellent!



You may also find this set of
David Benn's picture
David Benn
Joined: 2010-07-29

You may also find this set of short R videos useful.

Also, this R script can be used to plot a VStar model (polynomial, Fourier series) against observations. This is in the VStar user manual I'm writing.

I own both of Grant's books, have read the first more than once and keep returning to it, but have yet to get to his second, not for want of trying, just a lack of time and too many other books on the go.

Let us know how the Coursera course goes.


Statistics One
WBY's picture
Joined: 2010-07-24

I have created an AAVSO study group for the Statistics One Coursera course starting 9/22.

I will also create an AAVSO study group for the Coursera  R programming course  "Computing for Data Analysis", which starts 9/23. 

Join the study group for either course if you feel like it. Even if you don't want to post to the study group it would be great to know other AAVSOers taking either course. 

Brad Walter

dedricksond's picture
Joined: 2012-09-25

I am also enlisted in the Statistics One Coursera course. I don't know how much time I will have to dedicate to this, but I'm hoping my background in mathematics (differential geometry) will carry me along. Anyone wishing to communicate with me can email


Computing For Data Analysis forum Not Open Yet
WBY's picture
Joined: 2010-07-24

I have not been able to create a study group for the R programming course yet. The forum is still not open. I will update this sub-thread as soon as I can create the study group. I haven't seen posts from any other AAVSOer taking this course so I may be a study group of one. If you are enrolled in the Statistics one course, you might think about signing up for this one since it is a course for R programming for those who have no experience with R but some familiarity with programming languages in general. 

This could end up sounding a bit like the Saturday nigh prize drawing at TSP:

Aaaarrrrrrrr! All we need is a patch. 


hky's picture
Joined: 2010-08-24

Is this available online?


Courses in R and Introductory Statistics
SFS's picture
Joined: 2010-09-22

There's a five week course on R being offered on edX, starting 9 September. Needless to say, edX also offers a number of courses on statistics, data analysis and data mining.  I have no exerience with coursea, but have had several positive experiences with edX.  I'm posting this purely for informational purposes.

EdX, like coursea, offers their courses exclusively online. 

Yes Coursera as very nice
JAC's picture
Joined: 2013-12-10

Yes Coursera as very nice courses I did the one "discovering Exoplanets" and improved my knowledge on the subject very well.

since i'm not targeting a degree, since already have 2 it's very good.

the Course was ministered by the University of geneve, and most of the teachers, were involved in the discoveries associated with exoplanets.

of course some degree of work from home is necessary, and some previous knowledge related with a degree in sciences, but nothing that a graduate can keep with their pace.

Best regards


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