useR 2013

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Four days sunshine, heat and R – isn’t that a dream? Well, I guess for some this would be a nightmare, but that depends if you like heat or not. And it was hot: at 21:00 it was still 35 degrees in the sun. So that aspect is covered, and we can move on to the non controversial part, which is R.

We all know that R is great, and if you would have forgotten, you were permanently reminded that it is. OK – several talks highlighted the shortcomings and problems with R (speed, parallelization, inconsistent (or actually missing) naming conventions) but there was that general agreement: R is great.

There were some unlucky ones who used other statistice packages before (SaS comes to mind…), but fortunately I have to count myself among the lucky ones.

So how was this years useR in Albacete? Great. I enjoyed it very much (also from here a thank you to the organizers and the sponsors) and the talks were overall really interesting and inspiring. Nevertheless, I had the feeling that the talks at the last useR I attended (2011 in Warewick) were a little bit broader, but it was definitely worth attending and I learned a lot. The tutorials were again brilliant, and the one about Rcpp by Hadley Wickham (and Romain Francois, one of the two authors of Rcpp, the other one is Dirk Eddelbuettel) was outstanding. The second one I attended was the one on spatial analysis in R given by Roger Bivand (one of the authors of the sp package, the core of nearly all spatial packages in R) was, although not as hands-on as the one on Rcpp, extremely informative — although I am using sp and spgrass for several years already, I learned many new and useful things, and have some ideas about the R – GRASS interface and how to get data from GRASS into R (see my post Read GRASS raster directly into R?).

The invited talks were, for me as a non-statistician, a little bit to mathematical, as most of them dealt with quite technical aspects of statistical (mostly baysian) analysis. The exception were the talks by Duncan Murdoch, one of the R core team members and THE windows R core team member, who presented news in R 3.0.x and the way forward, and Hadley Wickham (one of the “R Rock Stars”).

So what are my take home messages from this useR in Albacete?

  1. The Beatles are fantastic, and now we know why
  2. there are other implementations of the R language apart from GNU R, but thay are not yet ready for usage. They promise to be faster and more menory efficient then GNU R
  3. Bayes is everywhere, especially where you least expect him to be, and he is getting faster!
  4. brogramming is not a spelling error but a life style
  5. either use lowerCamelCase or underscoreseparatedfunctionnames (Hadley is watching you!) but Do.notMixandmatch
  6. I have to improve on my C++!!!!!!!!!!!!

And if there is only one you remember, remember this:

R is great!!!

Cheers and enjoy life (and R).

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