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SAS Tutorial Guide for Beginners


What is SAS? Why should I learn SAS? Why should I join the SAS certification training? Do you really want to know the answers to all these questions? If yes, you have landed at the right place. This SAS Tutorial will answer all your queries and a healthy introduction to SAS technology as well. Humans are curious species, and they always want to know more. Let us understand it with the help of a simple example. What if you want to go shopping and you have two options to opt for?

  1. A $200 coupon
  2. 30% discount

You may wonder, which option can save you more? Many different scenarios can come to your mind, and it becomes difficult to make the final decision. So, how to tackle all these questions smartly with the proper calculation? You can do analytics or use tools that can help you in analyzing data. SAS is one of such amazing tools to help you. Your understanding of SAS is incomplete if you don’t discuss the data analytics concept first. So, let us get started with the discussion now.

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What is SAS?

SAS or Statistical Analysis Software is a software suite developed by the SAS Institute. It is used for data analytics and helps you with various qualitative techniques and processes to enhance the overall productivity of employees and business profits too. SAS should not be misunderstood with SAAS, which means the software as a service.

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SAS helps in extracting data and categorize it that helps you in identifying patterns further. It can be used to perform advanced analysis, predictive analysis, business intelligence, data management, etc. to operate effectively in the competitive world. Moreover, SAS is platform-independent, and it can be used with different platforms like Linux, Windows, etc.

When compared to other BI tools, SAS gives extensive support to transform and analyze data programmatically. It provides granular control for data manipulation and analyzes its USP.

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SAS Applications

  • Advanced Analytics
  • Multivariate Analytics
  • Predictive Analytics
  • Business Intelligence
  • Data Management

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Quick Introduction to Data Analytics

Analytics is a technical term quite trendy these days, yet there is no single definition for this term. Let us understand this with the help of a simple example. Imagine you want to buy a t-shirt. So, what possible questions can strike your mind? Let me help you with a few suggestions.

  • When to buy a T-shirt?
  • What should be the maximum cost for the T-shirt?
  • Can I buy it online or I need to visit a store?
  • For online shopping, which site should I prefer?
  • If I want to buy it from a store then which store should I visit?

Here, your final decision depends on multiple factors like budget, preferences, and past experiences, etc. let us continue with the problem.

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  • You can choose the weekend as you are usually free on Saturday or Sunday.
  • Your maximum budget is $300, not higher.
  • You love buying t-shirts from the store because it helps you in making a quick decision.
  • It is better to visit a store where you have gone earlier, too; it will not disappoint you.

With these facts, finally, you decided to buy a t-shirt from your favorite store that costs you around $280.  In simple words, you did perform a simple analysis here that helped in buying a t-shirt of your choice. Let me explain to you in two simple steps:

  1. You just collected information based on your requirements.
  2. You understood the data based on facts and information that helped you in buying your favorite T-shirt quickly.

So, it must be clear now how the data analytics process can help you. You can collect data, analyze the data, and make a decision based on your analysis. There are plenty of tools to perform analysis and to simplify these problems. One such prominent tool in SAS let us understand what SAS is and why it is necessary with the help of this SAS Tutorial.

Why do we need SAS?

Given example was simpler, so you could make a decision here based on a few assumptions only. What to do if the decision making is not that much simpler? Think again from a business point of view where an e-commerce website wants to study the buying patterns of customers based on historical data. The company has to study thousands of records for this purpose. Also, the Company may have to use the permutation combination technique here to record different preferences of people.

Sometimes, the Company may not have all the data. For example, if a customer has not purchased a T-shirt from your site, you simply ignore this data. This missing data may create problems later. So, how to work out with these problems? How to handle this type of data? Well, these problems become easier with analytics where we can use different techniques to find the relevant data that further helps in finding patterns to help you in making better decisions.

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If the analysis is performed manually, then this task may take hundreds of hours. With the help of analytics tools like SAS, the same task can be completed within a few hours only. It helps in eliminating waste data and optimize the available data. It helps you to workout with missing data too. Finally, SAS enables you to make a better decision than usual. In the next section, we will discuss popular analysis tools and how they can be compared together.

SAS vs. R vs. Python

During the last few years, data analytics has grown immensely. It results in an increase in the number of tools day by day. All of them are beneficial in one or another way. Moving ahead, let us discuss a few popular tools that are used frequently in the analytics market.

  • SAS (Statistical Analysis Software): It is the most powerful tool in the commercial analytics market. With an interactive GUI and a plethora of statistical benefits, it certainly leads the market.
  • R language: It is a well-documented, open-source, and easy to use programming language. It is a cost-effective programming language with plenty of statistical benefits.
  • Python: It is a popular open-source scripting language that has grown over time. It supports several libraries like NumPy, Scipy, MatPlotLib, etc. To check on Python libraries in detail.

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Let us compare these three tools based on these four parameters. These are Jobs, Flexibility, fourth-generation language, and Easy to learn, etc.

  • Jobs: The vast usage of analytics tools generated a lot of positions for skilled SAS resources. SAS holds more than 70 percent of the market share. R holds 15 %, and Python holds the least market share.
  • Flexibility: It is a highly flexible tool that can be quickly integrated with third-party tools or platforms. In brief, it amalgamates well with other technologies.
  • Fourth Generation Language: SAS is a 4th generation programming language designed with a specific purpose in mind like the development of commercial enterprise software. It reduces the overall programming efforts, time, or costs, etc. at the same time, R and Python are not 4th generation programming languages.
  • Easy to Learn: SAS programming language can be learned quickly. Python and R are not so much convenient for data analysis like SAS. R results in lengthy and boring code hence giving SAS an edge.

Brief History and Evolution of SAS

  • It was discovered by Jim Goodnight and John Shall in 1970 at N.C. University.
  • It was primarily designed for agricultural research.
  • It was clubbed with other tools to perform predictive analysis, BI, data management, etc.
  • Today, top Companies in fortune 400 using SAS for effective and quick data analysis.

Key Features of SAS

  • It helps in accessing raw data quickly from an external database. It accesses data written in almost any format.
  • It helps in data management for data entry, data formatting, data conversions, or data edition, etc.
  • It analyzes data using modeling techniques, Forecasting, linear programming, descriptive techniques, statistical techniques, etc.
  • It helps in performing advanced analytics to make improvements in business decisions.
  • It helps in report generation with the help of graphs.
  • It helps in data updates and necessary modifications.
  • It helps in project management and operations research.
  • It supports a powerful data handling language.
  • It has excellent data cleansing functions.
  • It can interact with multiple host systems together.

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SAS Product Suite or SAS Components

Name Description
Base SAS It promotes hardware agility and can be integrated with all types of cloud environments.
SAS / Graph It helps in you representing structured data into meaningful graphs.
SAS / STAT It helps you to perform a different type of analysis like regression analysis, statistical analysis, psychometric analysis, and more.
SAS / ETS It can be used for forecasting and helps you in performing series analysis.
SAS EBI It is a popular tool for business intelligence apps.
SAS Grid Manager It is an important component that allows data management feature and a programming language for data analysis too.
SAS / OR It is a tool for operational research.
SAS / QC It is a component for quality control.
SAS / Enterprise Miner It is generally required for data mining.
SAS / PH It is used for clinical trial analysis.
SAS / AF It is needed for applications facility.
SAS / IML IML means Interactive Matric Language. It is used for translating mathematical functions into innovative programs.
Enterprise Guide It is a GUI-based code editor and project manager.

SAS Tutorial: Architecture

SAS Architecture

SAS architecture is majorly divided into three parts: Client tier, Middle Tier, and Back Tier. Let us discuss each of them one by one.

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Client Tier:

It is the tier where the application is installed on a machine and where the user is sitting. It is made up of components that can be used to view the portal and its content. There is a standard web browser to interact with the portal over standard HTTP protocols. It also helps you in making user-friendly SAS web apps.

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Middle Tier:

It is the centralized access point to check on the enterprise information. The complete access to content is processed through different components running on this tier. It helps in separating the business logic from display logic and leveraging the logic of middle-tier too. In brief, it helps in enforcing security rules and managing code change too.

A list of functions hosted by middle tier is given below.

  • SAS Information Delivery Portal Web App: it is a collection of Java servlets, Java beans, Java Server Pages, and many other resources. It helps you in accessing information stored in the enterprise directory and creates a customizable interface for the user.
  • Servlet Engine: It is also named as the servlet container. It helps in managing the SAS Information Delivery Portal Web App. It offers runtime delivery, deployment, lifecycle management, and more.
  • Web Server: It offers services for the servlet engine that can be used to host the website. It can be accessed with the help of a portal.

Back Tier

It is an area where computation servers and data run together. It may contain different business objects too. It is an enterprise directory server that maintains the metadata about the content loaded throughout the enterprise.

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SAS as a Programming Language

If you belong to the technical background, then you must be aware of the fact that most of the programming languages are either menu-driven (Point-and-click) or they are command-driven (enter or execute commands). So, what is interesting about SAS.

SAS is neither command-driven nor menu-driven. It uses a series of instructions or statements that are together known as a SAS program. This program explains what you want to do, and it is written in the SAS programming language. Let us discuss two important terms when learning SAS as a programming language. These are Data and Data Types.

  • Data: When we are talking about SAS, data is usually available in a tabular format where variables occupy the column space, and observations cover the row space.
  • Data types: SAS can work with different types of data, either it is numeric data or character data. So, it relies on two data types only, numeric and character.

Moving ahead, let us learn what makes the basic building blocks of a SAS program, and what is the purpose of using these building blocks?

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Building Blocks in SAS

Every program starts with a DATA step for creating a SAS data set, and after this data is passed to the PROC step. At the PROC step, data is processed. To understand how PROC step and DATA step works, let us focus on one example first.

Consider, you want to convert a number from inches to centimeter and the result should be stored in a variable called “size,” and you need to print it later. DATA step will convert the number from inches to centimeters, and PROC step will help in printing the output. Let us see the snippet of the problem below.

The length of a step may vary from one statement to a hundred statements. Keep in mind that the DATA step is generally used to modify or read the data while the PROC step is used for analyzing data, performing utility functions, printing reports, etc.

Data steps start from keyword DATA that is followed by a name that you have decided for the SAS dataset. It is clear evidence that the DATA step produces a dataset with the name “size.” Data steps read data from an external database that can be used to include case or loop statements. It can also be used to merge, sort, concatenate, or combine the data.

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In the same way, procedures begin with PROC statement where the PROC keyword PROC following the name of the procedure used. SAS procedure contains a handful of possible statements. Every time SAS comes across a new step, it terminates or ends the previous statement and starts with the new one.

A typical SAS program usually begins with the DATA step to input or edit the data and passes the same data to the PROC step. You should not mix both steps together but perform them in the same order as discussed. Although you can arrange them in any order, you should have the good programming knowledge to make experiments.

With this discussion, it is clear that writing SAS programs is easy if you understand the basic functions deeply. Till now, we have discussed basics that every beginner should know before he starts learning the language practically. Moving on to the next section of the SAS Tutorial, let us learn the installation where you can practice the SAS programming. It is a SAS University edition released by the SAS Institute and available for free. All features that are required to practice BASE SAS are available in this edition. If you are sure of BASE SAS, then other SAS components can also be learned quickly.

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SAS Installation

SAS installation is not tough but to avail it as a virtual machine; you need to run it in a virtual environment. You should install virtualization software on your system first before you run the SAS software. Here are a few simple steps to download and set up a SAS environment.

1). Download SAS University Edition:

Download the SAS University Edition from the link -

Don’t forget to read the details before you start downloading.


2). Get the quick start guide

If you are completely new to the platform and doesn’t know how to proceed with the installation, then get the quick start guide first. It is available in PDF format, or video content is also available for your reference. However, it is optional, and you can skip it if you don’t need it.

SAS tutorial

3). Set up the virtual software

You need to download the suitable virtualization software that can work with your operating system. You can again skip this step if some virtual software is already installed on your system.

SAS tutorial

4). Download the ZIP file

Choose the appropriate version that is compatible with your favorite operating system and the virtual environment. It is available in a zip format. The name would be like this:

SAS tutorial

Once it is downloaded successfully, unzip the folder and store the files in an appropriate directory.

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5). Load the Virtual Machine

Now, you need a VM Player to look for a file that ends with “vmx” extension and open it. A screen will appear in front of you. Here, you should focus on the basic settings like hard disk space, memory space allocation for your reference.

6). Start the Virtual Machine

In the next step, you need to start the virtual machine with the green arrow put alongside. A screen will appear, run the virtual machine. It will redirect you to the URL prompt that will open the SAS environment later.

SAS Tutorial

7). Starting SAS Studio

Now open a tab on the browser and load the URL given in the above image. The following screen appears that shows the readiness of the SAS environment. The URL can be different because it varies from system to system.

SAS tutorial

You are done with the SAS installation, good to go ahead.

How to run a SAS Program?

When you have learned the SAS installation successfully, it is the right time to practice a simple SAS program. This program will tell you how to print a simple Fibonacci Series. Are you not sure what is a Fibonacci Series? A Fibonacci Series starts with zero, and one and next number will be the sum of previous ones. For example:

F(0) = 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34 ….

In a few contexts, the series starts with one instead of one. Let us see how it looks like:

F(1) = 1,,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34 …..

Let us look at the SAS program that generates a Fibonacci Series and starts with one.

DATA Fibonacci;
Do i = 1 to 10;
fib = Sum (Fib, Lag(fib));
if i = 1 then Fib = 1;
PROC PRINT Fibonacci;

The output of this SAS program in a printed format can be given as:

Obs I Fib
1 1 1
2 2 1
3 3 2
4 4 3
5 5 5
6 6 8
7 7 13
8 8 21
9 9 34
10 10 55

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Final Words:

I am sure you must have enjoyed reading this SAS Tutorial that covers basics in-depth and teaches you how to install SAS and run a simple SAS program. To become a SAS pro, learning the basics is not enough, but you should have an idea of advanced concepts too. For this reason, you are recommended joining the SAS Certification Program at JanBask Training and learn how to write complex SAS programs.

To build a career in the analytics domain, SAS is just the right move. So, what are you waiting for, start learning with JanBask Training now!

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