Tags: tutorial, SAS.
- First steps
- Introductory material
- Going further
- Obtaining help
SAS is the most widely used statistical package in large corporations throughout the world, in more than 100 different countries, with about 40 thosand licenses and 4 million users. Its name was born as an acronym: Statistical Analysis System (SAS), but the range of services and products sold nowadays by SAS (the company behind the software) became so vast that the name is acknowledged simply SAS.
The origins of the package date back to the 70's, when computers were still operated through punch cards (the CARDS commmand, inside a DATA step, comes from this time) and the processing power was extremely low. The software is made of different components, which provide solutions for specific problems. The main components are:
- SAS/Base: it's the base SAS system, upon which any other SAS product will run. The DATA step and some PROC statements are built in the SAS/Base component.
- SAS/STAT: it's the component which provides a wide range of statistical techniques, such as regression analysis, ANOVA, multivariate analysis, survival analysis among others.
- SAS/GRAPH: it's the component which provides graphic generation capabilities.
- SAS/ETS: it's the component for time series analysis.
- SAS/EG (or Enterprise Guide): it's a graphical interface for SAS, which allows some statistical analysis and data processing through a point and click interface.
When you buy a SAS license, it's necessary to pay an additional fee for each component you want to add. Generally, a SAS sales consultant will guide you through which modules you'll buy and how much you'll spend.
How to obtain a copy
As mentioned previously, SAS is a proprietary software provided on a license basis. You pay an annual fee (which can go up to millions of dollars) in order to be able to run the software and obtain its updates. Get in touch which your nearest SAS sales consultant in order to obtain specific information for your case.
It's also possible to obtain a locked down version of SAS, which will read only up to 1000 observations from each data set, for a reasonable price. It's called SAS Learning Edition, and it's priced at US$ 125.00. This version does not require further licensing, but will expire biannually.
Alternatively, if you're a student in a University, you'll probably already have access to an academic license of SAS. Check with the nearest statistics or IT guru.
As soon as you get a copy of SAS and wants to start playing with it, a very good introductory tutorial can be found at Kazuaki Uekawa's website: Kaz SAS Manuals. It covers from the very beginning (how to open SAS) up until using the Output Delivery System (ODS).
Alternative tutorials are: How to use SAS, from UCLA and Exploring the Baseball data with SAS and SAS/INSIGHT, from York University.
The best introduction to SAS available in book format is The Little SAS Book, from Lora D. Delwiche and Susan J. Slaughter. It's a very known reference, fully recommended by many different sources as an excellent introductory material for getting started with SAS. One of its main advantages is the amount of coverage it manages to have in a brief and short presentation. While most SAS manuals have thousands of pages, this little book covers many of them in less than 330 pages. It covers from basic introduction to the system up to MACRO programming, going through very relevant points, like output control with ODS and report generation with PROC REPORT. There are also some valuable appendices, which cover among other things, how to come to SAS from other programming languages and an overview of the most important components of the SAS system. There's also some useful points even for advanced users, like good programming practices and debugging. If you consider learning SAS seriously, you should have this book with you.
There are many other sources to further your knowledge of SAS. A good book is Handbook of Statistical Analysis Using SAS.
The SAS manuals, officially provided free or charge by the SAS Institute, are also very good allies. You can browse and download them here: Documentation for SAS 9 Products. They are an excellent source for studying the language and solving specific doubts about procedures and specifics of the language.
A website with advanced references is SAS Coding Tips.
Mailing lists are an excellent source of help in many areas of knowledge. One list that's very traditional for SAS is SAS-L:
- SAS-L: with over two decades of age, it's the largest online community dedicated to SAS. It's a high volume list, with over 3000 messages a month. To subscribe, visit the website of the Virgínia State University: http://www.listserv.uga.edu/archives/sas-l.html.
Every user of a licensed SAS copy has the right to have full 24 hours support from SAS. You can do that via the e-mail: supportsas.com . For any problem you have you can get in touch with them through this e-mail. When you send an e-mail message, remember to insert at the beginning of the message your site number:
NOTE: SAS (r) Proprietary Software Release 9.3 (TS2M0)
Licensed to Bananas Corporate, Site XXXXX.
NOTE: This session is executing on the WIN_XP platform.
Depending on where you live, you can also count on a SAS hotline, also free or charge for licensed sites. Observation: SAS Learning Edition users do not have these support rights.