Why R? 2020 Conference Summary

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The fourth edition of Why R? Conference (2020.whyr.pl) finished this weekend. The post presents the highlights of the conference and the overall summary. You can find all videos from the conference on youtube.com/WhyRFoundation channel.


This was the first virtual but the fourth edition of the annual conference devoted to R users in Central-Eastern Europe. This year we had a chance to gather participants from all over the world, thanks to the remote setup! We had +950 registered participants for lectures, 300 R users initially interested in Text Mining Hackathon and 220 taken seats for remote 2020.whyr.pl/workshops/. In the end, during the week after the first published Keynote talk we observed +16k views and 2.5k total watch hours.


The overall success of the conference would not be possible without the support of Sponsors:

We are deeply thankful for all the ideas, funds and the energy invested in the event!


We are grateful to all the keynotes who gave a talk at WhyR? conference: Julia Silge, Frank Harrell, Jan Vitek, Riinu Pius, Małgorzata Bogdan, Roger Bivand.

Discussion Panels

The head of a scientific committee, Michał Burdukiewicz, spend days and nights sacrificing his personal development and put, together with our keynotes, 4 excellent discussion panels. They are available on our youtube.com/WhyRFoundation channel with the transcripts of a live chat.

Below is the list of panel members.


Every conference is a great chance to attend a hands-on R workshop! This year we were lucky enought to host such qualified and enthusiastic workshop tutors. We also had a chance to organize an R workshop related to Legal basics for data scientists and Innovation Box (IP Box) in Poland. Below is the list or workshops organized at WhyR2020.

During the break between morning and afternoon sessions in collaboration with McKinsey & Company we also hosted a Recruiting PanelLessons learned from 500+ interviews for data science jobs

Title Tutors    
Invited First steps with Continuous Integration Colin Gillespie & Rhian Davis from Jumping Rivers    
Invited Bayesian Optimization with mlr3mbo Jakob Richter    
Basics of Shiny Weronika Puchała, Krystyna Grzesiak, Katarzyna Sidorczuk    
How to make your code fast – R and C++ integration using Rcpp Jadwiga Słowik, Dominik Rafacz, Mateusz Bąkała    
Reproducible data analysis with drake Jakub Kwiecień    
Recruiting Panel Lessons learned from 500+ interviews for data science jobs McKinsey & Company    
Invited Innovation Box (IP Box) in Poland Natalia Wojciechowska-Chałupińska & Grzegorz Leśniewski from Leśniewski Borkiewicz & Partners    
Invited Legal basics for data scientists Urszula Ilnicka-Karaban & Grzegorz Leśniewski from Leśniewski Borkiewicz & Partners    
Invited Advanced Shiny Colin Fay from ThinkR    
Highlighted Causal machine learning in practice Mateusz Zawisza McKinsey & Company    
Creating R Subroutines with Fortran and OpenMP Tools Erin Hodgess    
Satellite imagery analysis in R Ewa Grabska    


A language agnostic competition devoted to text mining where every machine learning practitioner could find challenges to test his/her team!

The full summary of the hackathon can be read in this blog post.

A day before the conference we organized Text Mining 2020.whyr.pl/hackathon/ at Why R?. This was an event that aimed to promote knowledge related to text analyses. We prepared 4 various challenges so that teams were able to pick tasks that suit their skills best. At the beginning of last week we published videos presenting winning solutions on youtube.com/WhyRFoundation channel.

We had an initial 300 participants interested in joining the hackathon before we even announced the theme and challenges. 2 weeks before the event start we announced it’s going to relate to the text mining and that we are aiming to get group submissions of a size of 4 or 5 team members. Around 60 people from all over the world formed 13 teams, from which 7 teams submitted at least one solution for any of the challenges presented at the hackathon. We’ve seen people from Australia, India, Germany, Poland, Senegal, US, Canada, Nepal, Spain, UK, Brazil!

People behind the scenes

This was a long term project that would not be possible without the participation of amazing people that in a voluntary service organized the event.

Organizing Committee

Marcin Kosinski (Head of the organization), Michał Burdukiewicz (Head of the scientific committee and conference plan), Klaudia Korniluk (Graphic Designer & Promotion), Kevin O’Brien (Marketing and Community Manager), Aleksandra Burdukiewicz (Finances and Legal).

Scientific Board

Stefan Rödiger, Piotr Wójcik, Leon Eyrich Jessen

Supporting Team

Olgun Aydin, Ola Petrykiewicz, Michał Maj, Krzysztof Słomczyński.

What’s next? – Webinars!

Why R? Webinars are back after successful launch of Why R? 2020 Conference! All videos from the past series can be watched on our youtube.com/WhyRFoundation channel. See this post to find out about upcoming webinars in October 2020. The aim of webinars is to support local R groups during the pandemic.


If you enjoyed the conference and would like to support our future actions, please donate: whyr.pl/donate/

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