Why use R? Because that’s what the pros use

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I had the great pleasure of sitting down for a beer with Steve O’Grady (from the open-source analyst group RedMonk), at the MySQL conference last week. It was great to get the perspective of someone who knows the tech industry so well, sees predictive analytics as a hot area, and is taking an active interest in statistics and R (Steve has been getting into R programming recently). I asked him, amongst all the software tools available, why choose to learn R for predictive analytics? He answered with a great analogy to scuba diving, which he just shared on his blog:

I had the opportunity to dive in a lot of interesting places, from Key West to Cayman Brac to Bonaire to plain old Rockport, MA. One of the things I noticed was that most of the professionals, pretty much to a person, used the same BCD [scuba equipment]: workman-like, beat up Scubapro designs. Ugly, even industrial-looking, but functional. Day after day, dive after dive.

Which begged the question that so many ask themselves in so many industries: what did I know about diving that the professionals did not?

Exactly. My next BCD, which I still own today, was a Scubapro.

I relate this story here because I told it to REvolution Computing’s David Smith last week to explain our interest in the R language.

I love this analogy. R today may not be as pretty as some of the alternatives (though we do have big plans for REvolution R), but it sure is functional, reliable and powerful. And that’s why the professionals are using it. 

tecosystems: Watch the Professionals

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