The options I've seen and am looking at as possible in some combination here:

  • R
  • Java
  • Python
  • Matlab
  • Visual Basic + Excel
  • VBA
  • SAS
  • C/C++
  • C#

What I have experience in: Java JavaScript HTML/CSS (Also only have completed half a year in a high school college-level statistics course if you are looking for background information there given my detail-lacking explanation of my desires later)

What I want to do: Learn a programming language that will:

-best suit a possible future study of actuarial science.

-assist me in making efficient my hobby of studying and analyzing sports statistics. This would entail being able to extract mass data from sites such as pro-football-reference.com or basketball-reference.com, and then perform analysis as needed that the written code can assist with in simplifying and automating much of the process in my tasks.

(I am less certain of what it is I want in that latter regard as there is a lot in the field of statistics I have yet to learn, and thus there's a lot I wouldn't know about that I would want to look for if I did.)

So, in general, I'm looking for a single program or combination of programs that I can write code in tailored to assisting me with specific needs from website data extraction to the actual data analysis. Some of this may already be written out via the programming language's libraries offered (depending on what it is) and so I'd like clarification there.

Please let me know if there's a better place to ask this question, I understand this is a statistics forum and not a programming forum, some of you may only have deep knowledge in some of these things. I would post it there too, but I don't feel like it would be on topic enough to be received positively.

If you feel there's something I don't quite have a strong grasp on here that is making my pursuit of what I want more unclear than it needs to be, please let me know what those things are too so I can set myself right.


3 Answers 3


Python is a great language. While it is not the programming language for statistics, it has very good capabilities in data processing (pandas etc.). The nice thing about python is that it is super flexibile - it is very often a good second choice. This will enable you to do other stuff easily, should your life change direction.

Also, check this out and, perhaps, search "why python" on google.


R is a very popular language as well. It is designed with statistics and analysis. I think it is a good choice. I am finding it quite difficult and unforgiving. There are a lot of quirks. Once you get past that it is quite powerful.


I would recommend SAS. There is a free-to-use version, SAS University, that has, I think, full functionality.

I recommend it for the simple reason that outside of the academic world, it seems to be the most widely used statistical software (although I do not have data on that).

  • $\begingroup$ SAS is only widely in use as a legacy tool. $\endgroup$ Sep 27, 2018 at 3:04

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