How to learn SAS/IML: Five resources for the beginner


When I was at the annual SAS Global Forum conference, I had the pleasure of discussing statistical programming and SAS/IML software with dozens of SAS customers.

I was asked at least ten times, "How do I get started with SAS/IML software?" or "How can I learn PROC IML?" Here is my list of the top five resources for beginners who are learning to program in the SAS/IML language:

  1. Read Statistical Programming with SAS/IML Software. Yes, I am the author, so please forgive the self-promotion, but the reason I wrote the book is so that people can learn how to use SAS/IML software efficiently. By special arrangement with SAS Press, the "Getting Started" chapter of my book is available as a free download.
  2. Subscribe to The DO Loop blog. On Mondays I post "Getting Started" topics. You can click on the Getting Started category in the sidebar to see all of my Getting Started articles to date.
  3. Ask questions at the SAS/IML Discussion Forum. Follow the best practices for getting a response.
  4. Read the first few chapters of the SAS/IML User's Guide. In 2010, the first six introductory chapters were rewritten to make the documentation more useful for beginners. The "Language Reference" chapter was also improved so that each function and subroutine has an explicit cut-and-paste example.
  5. If you do not have a license for SAS/IML at your workplace, consider downloading the free SAS University Edition, which is part of the SAS Analytics U initiative. SAS University Edition supports SAS/IML software, which means that everyone can now learn the SAS/IML language!

About Author

Rick Wicklin

Distinguished Researcher in Computational Statistics

Rick Wicklin, PhD, is a distinguished researcher in computational statistics at SAS and is a principal developer of SAS/IML software. His areas of expertise include computational statistics, simulation, statistical graphics, and modern methods in statistical data analysis. Rick is author of the books Statistical Programming with SAS/IML Software and Simulating Data with SAS.


  1. Rick - what about the actual software to learn along with the books? Is there a "light" version and/or a business partner/developer program where someone can acquire it?

  2. Rick Wicklin on

    Good question! If you already are using SAS, but just need to obtain SAS/IML, I think the process is fairly straightforward. If you don't have SAS at all, I'll have to check with some of my colleagues as to the best way for you to proceed. I'll get back to you.

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