Helpful resources for principal components analysis in R

Written by: Spencer Greenhalgh

Primary Source: Spencer Greenhalgh

I’m currently working on my dissertation proposal, which has meant exploring principal components analysis. I’ve worked with PCA before, but it’s been a couple of years, so I’m trying to refresh my memory, improve my understanding, and get this proposal moving! Along the way, I’ve found (and been recommended) some helpful resources that I thought I would pass along.

For Understanding/Explaining PCA

My advisor recently pointed me to this CrossValidated (i.e., StackExchange for stats) post that includes an engaging and fun explanation of PCA, complete with a fancy animation. This one isn’t specifically related to R, but it’s a good start for understanding what’s really going on “under the hood” when you carry out a PCA.

For some PCA walkthroughs and R code

R-bloggers recently posted a collection of links to YouTube videos and other resources on using the FactoMineR package in R for doing PCA. I found the videos helpful for getting back up to speed with PCA after a couple of years away, and I’m going to keep FactoMineR in mind in the future.

For plotting PCA results

I’m interested in graphical displays of PCA results and of using visualizations to interpret PCA; while I was looking for help here, I found an answer on Cross-Validated that not only provided some helpful advice but also made available some code for creating nice plots of PCA data.

I’m sure I’ll stumble upon some other helpful resources as I continue to work with PCA and move my dissertation forward!

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Hi there! My name is Spencer Greenhalgh, and I am a student in the Educational Psychology and Educational Technology doctoral program at Michigan State University. I came to Michigan State University with a strong belief in the importance of an education grounded in the humanities. As an undergraduate, I studied French and political science and worked as a teaching assistant in both fields. After graduation, I taught French, debate, and keyboarding in a Utah private school before coming to MSU, where I plan to study how technology can be used to help students connect the humanities with their lives. I have a particular interest in the use of games and simulations to promote ethical reasoning and explore moral dilemmas, but am eager to study any technology that can help students see the relevance of studying language, culture, history, and government.