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  SAS Institute Logo    What is SAS ?

Founded in 1976, SAS ("Statistical Analysis Software") has recorded double digit growth since it's inception, and is the largest privately owned software company in the world. It is installed in 96 of the FTSE 100 companies, and recognised as the market leader for business intelligence and analysis software.

SAS was originally created (by Dr Jim Goodnight) to provide a programming environment for statisticians. It's development followed two key paths ; the first was to create the market leading resource for statistical and data analysis, the second to provide a flexible, and powerful multi-platform programming language and development environment. The result is one of the most highly structured, flexible programming languages available, facilitating very rapid application develoment, coupled with a point and click development and analysis environment which is comfortable for non programmers.

History and Product development

Consistently re-investing 25 % of it's revenue in R & D, SAS has followed many key research paths bolstering it's key product ("The SAS System") each time :

So SAS has almost itself in terms of the industries and technologies it supports to maintain a healthy growth, but it has always maintained support for the products it developed for those industries (and they are the most wealthy and profitable industries) securing it's high revenue base.

What is the SAS Language ?

The SAS programming language is split into two parts ; the Data step, and the Procedure step. The Data step is concerned with reading data, and manipulating it into the format you want. The Procedure step facilitates reporting (text, charts and HTML), data summarisation, and analysis.
The language is also supported by SAS macros, which allow program statements to be re-used with aspects of the statements changed to suit different data. For example, program statements can be written to manipulate data in a certain way, and output the data to a particular file. Enclosing the statements within a macro allows you to very simply specify a different input and output file without repeating the same program statements.
Once data is read in, it is held in SAS datasets which also hold the name, description, type, length, output format, and input format of every variable in the dataset. When the dataset is reused, all of those attributes are already known to the program statements (for example if the data is output using a procedure step, it's output format (e.g. a date or currency) will automtaically be adopted according to it's definition), and if the dataset is merged with another dataset, all of those attributes are inherited by the new one.
The instructions within a data step are assumed to be performed against every record in the data set, removing the need to add loop controls to read new records.