The design of R has been heavily influenced by two existing languages: Becker, Chambers & Wilks' S and Sussman's Scheme. Whereas the resulting language is very similar in appearance to S, the underlying implementation and semantics are derived from Scheme.

The core of R is an interpreted computer language which allows branching and looping as well as modular programming using functions. Most of the user-visible functions in R are written in R. It is possible for the user to interface to procedures written in the C, C++, or FORTRAN languages for efficiency, and many of R's core functions do so. The R distribution contains functionality for a large number of statistical procedures and underlying applied math computations. There is also a large set of functions which provide a flexible graphical environment for creating various kinds of data presentations.

Additionally, several thousand extension "packages" are available from CRAN, the Comprehensive R Archive Network, many also as Debian packages, named 'r-cran-

This package provides the R manuals in pdf format. The sibling packages r-doc-html and r-doc-info provides the same manuals.