R Consortium and User! 2016 News

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by Joseph Rickert

IBM Joins the R Consortium

This past Monday at the Spark Summit in San Francisco IBM announced that it had joined the R Consortium as a “Platinum” member. This is very good news with respect to the development and growth of the R language, the health of the R Community and the position of opensource software in the corporate world. Having IBM join with corporate heavyweights Google, HP, Microsoft and Oracle and the other members of the R Consortium (The R Foundation,  Rstudio, Tibco, Alteryx, Mango Solutions, Pro Cogia and Ketchum Trading) confirms the importance of R as a viable platform for industrial strength data science and signals the ever increasing role that open source software plays in corporate computing.

As a Platinum member, IBM will gain a seat on the R Consortium's board of directors as well as membership in the R Consortium's technical committee: the Information Steering Committee or ISC. IBM's board seat will be claimed by Dinesh Nirmal, vice president of development for next-generation analytics platforms and big data solutions.

The mission of the R Consortium is to undertake projects that improve the infrastructure supporting the R language and provide general support to the R Foundation and the R Community. The R consortium has been very aggressive in pursuing these goals. This past March it funded a wide range of projects and expects to launch even more projects this summer. The participation of IBM should make it possible for the R Consortium to continue to fund projects that require significant resources. The window of proposals for the next group of projects closes on July 10th. If you have an idea that you think would benefit the R Community and the expertise to carry it through please consider submitting a proposal

You can read some industry impression about IBM joining the R Consortium from ComputerworldeWeek, jaxenter, SD Times and elsewhere.


Other R Consortium News 

Webinar: R package development with R-Hub

Join us for a webinar on Jun 23, 2016 at 9:30 AM PDT. Gábor Csárdi, R-Hub’s lead developer, will describe the R-Hub architecture, discuss the status of the project and give a brief demonstration on how R-Hub will be used. Register now! Here is the link to register.

R-HUB, the most significant project that the R Consortium has funded to date, is making progress. The major goal of R-Hub is to develop a modern platform for simplifying and improving the R package development process. It will provide facilities to assist package creation, building binaries, and for publishing, distributing and maintaining packages.

Distributed Computing Working Group

The working group seeking a unified framework for distributed computing in R has been formed under the leadership of R core member Michael Lawrence and recently held its first meeting. The goal of the group is to develop a common framework for simplifying and standardizing how users program distributed applications in R. Other members of the group include , Bernd Bischl (Dortmund University), Matt Dowle (H2O), Mario Inchiosa (Microsoft), Michael Kane (Yale University), Javier Luraschi (Rstudio), Edward Ma (HP), Indrajit Roy (HP), Luke Tierney (University of Iowa) and Simon Urbanek (R Core and AT&T). (I am the ISC sponsor for the working group).

Code Coverage Working Group

The Code Coverage WG currently has 12 members and Hadley Wickham is the ISC Sponsor. The group has held three WG meetings so far and is settling on the first version feature set. The working group is still open to new members who are interested in contributing to the project. The group's GitHub page is here.

The Future Proof Native APIs Working Group

Membership in this working group, which is seeking to achieve consensus on a consistent and verifiable API to drive R language adoption, is still open. Stephen Kaluzny is the ISC sponsor. The web page for the group may be found here.

DBI Database Project

The Project to improve the R's DBI Database interface is underway and can be followed on Github. Kirill Müller, the project lead, has reported that the project is focusing on the following issues:

  • Completing the DBItest package, including a written specification of DBI
  • Creating the [RKazam package](https://github.com/rstats-db/RKazam)
  • Generating boilerplate for DBI backends implemented from scratch
  • Creating a case study by updating the RSQLite package to conform to the new specification


Steph Locke and Gergely Daroczig have begun serious planning for the satRdays conferences. They set up a poll for people to vote on conference locations and received over 2,200 responses. Steph and Gergely are aiming “to build a central infrastructure, host some events, and facilitate future events under the satRdays brand”. Over the next few weeks they will be helping to organize the first conference in Budapest, Hungary and building an initial site for the project. You can follow satRdays on Github.

Mailing Lists

Stay current with what is happening with the R Consortium by signing on to the R Consortium Mailing lists here or perusing the  projects archives.

Funded Projects

Look here for a complete list of R Consortium funded projects.


user! 2016 Conference News

The early closing of this year's useR! conference surprised and disappointed many R users who where locked out because early registrations pushed attendance way over the conference limit. The conference organizers hope to mitigate the disappoint by live streaming the keynote sessions and videotaping the tutorials and contributed sessions. All of will happen under the non-commercial Creative Commons License. Videos will be hosted online and available for download after the event. – A special thanks to Microsoft management for making this possible. There is still time to plan keynote live-stream parties at your location.

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