U.S. Department of Commerce


Date of this Version



Published in Biometrics 65, 660–673 June 2009.


Most authors struggle to pick a title that adequately conveys all of the material covered in a book. When I first saw Applied Spatial Data Analysis with R, I expected a review of spatial statistical models and their applications in packages (libraries) from the CRAN site of R. The authors’ title is not misleading, but I was very pleasantly surprised by how deep the word “applied” is here. The first half of the book essentially covers how R handles spatial data. To some statisticians this may be boring. Do you want, or need, to know the difference between S3 and S4 classes, how spatial objects in R are organized, and how various methods work on the spatial objects? A few years ago I would have said “no,” especially to the “want” part. Just let me slap my EXCEL spreadsheet into R and run some spatial functions on it. Unfortunately, the world is not so simple, and ultimately we want to minimize effort to get all of our spatial analyses accomplished. The first half of this book certainly convinced me that some extra effort in organizing my data into certain spatial class structures makes the analysis easier and less subject to mistakes. I also admit that I found it very interesting and I learned a lot.