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I thought we would try to express why somebody interested in using the R language (and package ecosystem) for supervised machine learning, data wrangling, analytics projects, and other data science topics should give Practical Data Science with R, 2nd Edition a try.

Nina Zumel and I shared the book with two incredible data scientists (Jeremy Howard and Rachel Thomas), and they helped answer the question with the following as the Practical Data Science with R, 2nd Edition forward:

Practical Data Science with R, Second Edition, is a hands-on guide to data science, with a focus on techniques for working with structured or tabular data, using the R language and statistical packages. The book emphasizes machine learning, but is unique in the number of chapters it devotes to topics such as the role of the data scientist in projects, managing results, and even designing presentations. In addition to working out how to code up models, the book shares how to collaborate with diverse teams, how to translate business goals into metrics, and how to organize work and reports. If you want to learn how to use R to work as a data scientist, get this book.

We have known Nina Zumel and John Mount for a number of years. We have invited them to teach with us at Singularity University. They are two of the best data scientists we know. We regularly recommend their original research on cross-validation and impact coding (also called target encoding). In fact, chapter 8 of Practical Data Science with R teaches the theory of impact coding and uses it through the authors own R package: vtreat.

Practical Data Science with R takes the time to describe what data science is, and how a data scientist solves problems and explains their work. It includes careful descriptions of classic supervised learning methods, such as linear and logistic regression. We liked the survey style of the book and extensively worked examples using contest-winning methodologies and packages such as random forests and xgboost. The book is full of useful, shared experience and practical advice. We notice they even include our own trick of using random forest variable importance for initial variable screening.

Overall, this is a great book, and we highly recommend it.

Jeremy Howard and Rachel Thomas

Jeremy Howard is an entrepreneur, business strategist, developer, and educator. Jeremy is a founding researcher at fast.ai, a research institute dedicated to making deep learning more accessible. He is also a faculty member at the University of San Francisco, and is chief scientist at doc.ai and platform.ai.

Previously, Jeremy was the founding CEO of Enlitic, which was the first company to apply deep learning to medicine, and was selected as one of the worlds top 50 smartest companies by MIT Tech Review two years running. He was the president and chief scientist of the data science platform Kaggle, where he was the top-ranked participant in international machine learning competitions two years running.

Rachel Thomas is director of the USF Center for Applied Data Ethics and cofounder of fast.ai, which has been featured in The Economist, MIT Tech Review, and Forbes. She was selected by Forbes as one of 20 Incredible Women in AI, earned her math PhD at Duke, and was an early engineer at Uber. Rachel is a popular writer and keynote speaker. In her TEDx talk, she shares what scares her about AI and why we need people from all backgrounds involved with AI.

Zumel, Mount, Practical Data Science with R, 2nd Edition, Manning, 2019 is available from: