A competition to recommend “relevant” R packages – and the future of R

October 9, 2010
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(This article was first published on R-statistics blog, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

Update: the competition was href="http://www.johnmyleswhite.com/notebook/2010/10/10/r-recommendation-contest-launches-on-kaggle/">just launched. /> * * *

What is the competition about?

href="http://www.drewconway.com/zia/?p=2415">Drew Conway and href="http://www.johnmyleswhite.com/notebook/2010/10/07/build-a-recommendation-system-for-r-packages/">John Myles Whyte have collected data from (52) R users about the packages they have installed. The data is now href="http://github.com/johnmyleswhite/r_recommendation_system">available on github for download and the contest will be run on the href="http://kaggle.com/About-Us/how-it-works">kaggle platform.

For more details, href="http://www.dataists.com/2010/10/using-data-tools-to-find-data-tools-the-yo-dawg-of-data-hacking/">head over to dataists.

And for fun, here is the dependency graph for R packages they have assembled so far:

style="float:right; width:247px"> style="float:right; font-size:10px; width:247px; border:1px">A graphical visualization of packages’ “suggestion” relationships. Affectionately referred to as the href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Spaghetti_Monster" >R Flying Spaghetti Monster. More info below.

A tiny bit more on R bloggers virality

id="more-566"> /> Since I started getting involved in the href="http://www.r-bloggers.com/">R bloggers community, I can recall two major discussion that have attracted more then two bloggers writing about them.

The first one was people in the R community arguing against Dr. AnnMaria De Mars post “The Next Big Thing”, where she wrote that “R is an epic fail.” (my response to it then was the post “ href="http://www.r-statistics.com/2010/04/r-the-next-big-thing-and-statistics-in-the-cloud/">“The next big thing”, R, and Statistics in the cloud“) /> The second one was tackling the question “Is R “that bad” that it should be rewritten from scratch?”. Many responses went to the post by Ross Ihaka who was arguing for the need to rewrite R from scratch (a very wide spectrum of replies to that can be viewed on the href="http://stackoverflow.com/questions/3706990/is-r-that-bad-that-it-should-be-rewritten-from-scratch">stackoverflow discussion I started on the topic.)

And in the past few days I noticed a href="http://blog.revolutionanalytics.com/2010/10/kaggle-competition.html">starting href="http://www.drewconway.com/zia/?p=2415"> of a href="http://www.stat.columbia.edu/~cook/movabletype/archives/2010/10/contest_for_dev.html">cascade href="http://www.johnmyleswhite.com/notebook/2010/10/07/build-a-recommendation-system-for-r-packages/">of posts, all promoting the post at “ href="http://www.dataists.com/2010/10/using-data-tools-to-find-data-tools-the-yo-dawg-of-data-hacking/">dataists“.

This leads me to three simple statements: /> 1) I think it is beautiful that the R community has advocates that defend R’s role in the future of statistics /> 2) I think it is important that the R community has so many (smart) people (beyond the amazing R core team) who reflects on how R is doing, and of the challenges that the R language and environment will face in the future. /> 3) I think it is a fascinating thing that the R community is a community of researchers who have the skills to research themselves. Each community of a discipline can use it’s skill on itself – psychologists may psychoanalyze themselves, WordPress bloggers may write about WordPress, and R users can plan studies and analyse data about themselves – this potential is only beginning to be untapped – and I am excited to see where it might lead in the years to come.

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