Beginning in the 1980s, commercially developed calculators with graphing and programmable capabilities have been available to students and others for aid in solving various mathematical problems. In parallel, many mathematics software packages were developed for use by both students and professionals in mathematics, science and related fields. Examples of such software are the popular MATLAB for numerical computing with some symbolic capability and Mathematica for symbolic mathematical manipulation with some numerical capability. Both MATLAB and Mathematica as well as a variety of other mathematical software packages have in addition the ability to produce high quality graphics for plotting functions, etc. One can also write and execute programs using for-loops and other standard computer science techniques in MATLAB and Mathematica. Other popular tools of this kind are Maple, Mathcad, and statistical software such as SPSS and SAS. The accessibility of sophisticated calculators and mathematical software has revolutionized both teaching and problem solving in mathematics, science, and engineering. Of course dramatic advances in both hardware and software continue to occur that makes mathematical software ever better.

But there is another revolution in mathematics related computing that is well in motion. This is the development, improvement, and increasing ubiquity of freely available and powerful open access mathematical computing tools. Some important examples of this are Octave, Sage, Julia, Python with its packages such as NumPy, SciPy and SymPy; and R. The fact that all of these are free is impressive enough. What is more, they all have a widespread, diverse, and most of all, very dedicated community supporting them in order to insure a high quality product available to anyone anywhere at no financial cost. This is certainly the case with R.

Originally developed for statistical analyses and graphics, R is among the most popular and most powerful of the open source tools for mathematical computing. Together with an amazing number of user developed add-on packages and a variety of very well developed integrated development environments, R is as powerful and useful as any commercial mathematics or statistics software package. However, a newcomer to R, and in particular a student, may find it a bit intimidating to use. Brian Dennis’s *The R Student Companion* is meant to address this issue. And it does this successfully, especially for students with little background or experience in advanced mathematics or computer programming. A senior in high school or a first-year college student could easily pick up this book and immediately start doing interesting things with R.

What do you get out of Dennis’s book? You learn how to install R and add-on packages. You learn the basic syntax and discover how to make plots and do basic computations using R. A reader of this book will learn how to do some essential programming in R, and also see it applied to solve interesting example of real scientific problems. Indeed, *The R Student Companion* makes picking up R quick and easy.

Some of the nicest features of *The R Student Companion* are the end of chapter summaries and exercises, the available R code, and of course the already mentioned real world applications. I would strongly recommend for any student entering college intending to study a science-oriented field to learn R. If you want a resource to help, then *The R Student Companion* is certainly recommended.

Jason M. Graham is an assistant professor in the department of mathematics at the University of Scranton, Scranton, Pennsylvania. His current professional interests are in teaching applied mathematics and mathematical biology, and collaborating with biologists specializing in the collective behavior of groups of organisms.