Xie Yihui, R Superstar and Mensch

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Yesterday a friend told me, “Yihui has written the most remarkably open blog post, and you’ve got to read it.” I did and it was. Though my post here is not about R per se, it is about a great contributor to R, our Yihui, Dr. of Statistics and (according to him) Master of Procrastination.

I can relate to his comments personally, and indeed he has written the essay that I never had the courage to write about myself. But the big message in Yihui’s posting is that, really, that MP degree of his is far more useful than his PhD. If Yihui had been the Tiger Cub type (child of a Tiger Mom), we wouldn’t have knitr, and a lot more.

I was a strong opponent of Tiger Mom-ism long before Amy Chua coined the term. To me, it is highly counterproductive, destroying precious creativity and often causing much misery. I’m not endorsing laziness, mind you,, but as Yihui shows, creative procrastination can produce wonderful results. As I write at the above link,

I submit that innovative people tend to be dreamers. I’m certainly not advocating that parents raise lazy kids, but all that intense regimentation in Tiger Mom-land clearly gives kids no chance to breathe, let alone dream.

Yihui is a dreamer, and the R community is much better for it.

I could tell Yihui is exceptionally creative the first day I met him. Who else would have the chutzpah to name his Web site The Capital of Statistics? ?

As mentioned, it was quite courageous on Yihui’s part to write his essay, but he is doing a public good in doing so; many, I’m sure, will find it inspirational.

Good for him, and good for R.


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