Centre for Mathematical Sciences, University of Cambridge

Wilberforce Road, Cambridge
Jan 7-8, 2014
9:00 am - 4:30 pm

Instructors: Stephen Eglen, Laurent Gatto, Aleksandra Pawlik

What: Our goal is to help scientists and engineers become more productive by teaching them basic computing skills like program design, version control, testing, and task automation. We will focus on teaching R programming. In this two-day boot camp, short tutorials will alternate with hands-on practical exercises. Participants will be encouraged both to help one another, and to apply what they have learned to their own research problems during and between sessions. At the end of the workshop we hope that participants will be able to generate their own R package and share it with others on github.

Who: The course is aimed at postgraduate students and other scientists who are familiar with basic programming concepts (like loops, conditionals, arrays, and functions) but need help to translate this knowledge into practical tools to help them work more productively. In the first instance, attendance will be restricted to people who work at Cambridge University and affiliated institutions.

Requirements: Participants must bring a laptop with a few specific software packages installed. See the setup information below for what you will need to install before the day. You should also have an EDUROAM account to access the wireless network. If you do not have EDUROAM, we should be able to get you a temporary account, but please let the organisers know before the day.

Content: The syllabus for this boot camp will include:

Contact: Please mail r.cam.bootcamp@gmail.com for more information.

Meeting room

We will be in Meeting room 4 (MR4) of the Centre for Mathematical Sciences.


Please ensure that you have the following software enabled before you arrive on the course.
  1. R version 3.0.2 (or later).
  2. RStudio desktop IDE version 0.97 (or later). This will provide an editor for writing code, or you can also use any other plain-text editor that you are familiar with.
  3. R package building requirements: on Linux and Mac, most requirements should be installed by default. Windows users will need Rtools. When installing Rtools, make sure to update your path accordingly.
    Additional information regarding the installation of R and Rtools can be found here.
  4. Windows users should install Git bash to get Git, bash, and make (among other Unix tools). Alternatively, these tools are also available via Cygwin.
  5. Mac and Linux users should ensure they have "git" and "make" on their system, and know how to access a terminal. Mac users can download git from http://git-scm.com/download/mac.
  6. (optional) A working LaTeX distribution. Linux users should use their package manager. Mac users can install Mactex. Windows users can install Miktex. While not strictly needed for the bootcamp, LaTeX is an important part of R package building and documentation.


Some times/topics may switch around before the bootcamp begins.
When What Who
Day 1    
08:30 Setup LG
09:00 Welcome SJE
09:15 R introduction LG
10:30 Break  
10:45 R programming LG
12:00 Lunch  
13:00 R programming LG
14:15 Break  
14:30 Shell, make SJE
16:30 Wrapup  
Day 2    
09:00 Version Control AP
10:30 Break  
10:45 Version Control AP
12:00 Lunch  
13:00 R packaging LG
14:00 Break  
14:15 Vignettes, testing SJE
15:30 Github packaging LG
16:00 Questions?  
16:30 End  


Please note that as of December 11, the course is now full. Visit the registration page if you would like to go on the waiting list. We are charging a fee of 25 pounds to cover the cost of hosting the meeting. If after registering you are unable to attend, the fee may be refundable only if we can find someone else suitable to cover your place.

We'll have a small amount of tea/coffee available during the meeting, but no food. Food (and other drinks) can be bought from the main mathematics cafeteria.


Course material is available here. We will be using an Etherpad for sharing information among the class during the bootcamp.

Reference Guides