Articles by David Smith

Gender Diversity in the R and Python Communities

December 5, 2018 | David Smith

Many (if not most) tech communities have far more representation from men than from women (and even fewer from nonbinary folk). This is a shame, because everybody uses software, and these projects would self-evidently benefit from the talent and expertise from across the entire community. Some projects are doing better ...
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Simulating dinosaur populations, with R

November 30, 2018 | David Smith

So it turns out that the 1990 Michael Crichton novel Jurassic Park is, indeed, a work of fiction. (Personal note: despite the snark to follow, the book is one of my all-time favorites — I clearly remember devouring it in 24 hours straight while ill in a hostel in France.) If the monsters ... [Read more...]

R now supported in Azure SQL Database

November 28, 2018 | David Smith

Azure SQL Database, the database-as-a-service based on Microsoft SQL Server, now offers R integration. (The service is currently in preview; details on how to sign up for the preview are provided in that link.) While you've been able to run R in SQL Server in the cloud since the release ... [Read more...]

Cognitive Services in Containers

November 19, 2018 | David Smith

I've posted several examples here of using Azure Cognitive Services for data science applications. You can upload an an image or video to the service and extract information about faces and emotions, generate a caption describing a scene from a provided photo, or speak written text in a natural voice. (... [Read more...]

In case you missed it: October 2018 roundup

November 15, 2018 | David Smith

In case you missed them, here are some articles from October of particular interest to R users. Peter Provost ports some 80's-era BASIC programs for kids to R. In a podcast for Fringe FM, I discuss the ethics of AI, Microsoft and Open Source, and the R Community. Roundup of ... [Read more...]

Working with US Census Data in R

November 6, 2018 | David Smith

If you need data about the American populace, there's no source more canonical than the US Census Bureau. The bureau publishes a wide range of public sets, and not just from the main Census conducted every 10 years: there are more than 100 additional surveys and programs published as well. To help ...
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Azure ML Studio now supports R 3.4

November 1, 2018 | David Smith

Azure ML Studio, the collaborative drag-and-drop data science workbench, now supports R 3.4 in the Execute R Script module. Now you can combine the built-in data manipulation and analysis modules of ML Studio with R scripts to accomplish other data tasks, as for example in this workflow for oil and gas ...
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Spooky! Gravedigger in R

October 31, 2018 | David Smith

Need something to distract the kids while they're waiting to head out Trick-or-Treating? You could have them try out a Creepy Computer Game in R! Engineer and social scientist Dr Peter Provost translated one of the old BASIC games from the classic book Creepy Computer Games into R: just have ...
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When the numbers don’t tell the whole story

October 24, 2018 | David Smith

Anscombe's Quartet is a famous collection of four small data sets — just 11 (x,y) pairs each — that was developed in the 1970s to emphasize the fact that sometimes, numerical summaries of data aren't enough. (For a modern take on this idea, see also the Datasaurus Dozen.) In this case, it ... [Read more...]

Computer Vision for Model Assessment

October 23, 2018 | David Smith

One of the differences between statistical data scientists and machine learning engineers is that while the latter group are concerned primarily with the predictive performance of a model, the former group are also concerned with the fit of the model. A model that misses important structures in the data — for ...
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Maryland’s Bridge Safety, reported using R

October 18, 2018 | David Smith

A front-page story in the Baltimore Sun reported last week on the state of the bridges in Maryland. Among the report's findings: 5.4% of bridges are classified in "poor" or "structurally deficient" condition 13% of bridges in the city of Baltimore are in "poor" condition Those findings were the result of analysis ... [Read more...]

A small logical change with big impact

October 16, 2018 | David Smith

In R, the logical || (OR) and && (AND) operators are unique in that they are designed only to work with scalar arguments. Typically used in statements like while(iter __ 1000 && eps __ 0.0001) continue_optimization() the assumption is that the objects on either side (in the example above, iter and eps) are single values (... [Read more...]

The Economist’s Big Mac Index is calculated with R

October 12, 2018 | David Smith

The Economist's Big Mac Index (also described on Wikipedia if you're not a subscriber) was created (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) as a measure to compare the purchasing power of money in different countries. Since Big Macs are available just about everywhere in the world, the price of a Big Mac in Sweden — ... [Read more...]

How R gets built on Windows

October 11, 2018 | David Smith

I wasn't at the Use of R in Official Statistics (uRos2018) conference in the Netherlands last month, but I'm thankful to Jeroen Ooms for sharing the slides from his keynote presentation. In addition to being a postdoc staffer at ROpenSci, Jeroen maintains the official repository for the daily R builds ... [Read more...]

R Consortium grant applications due October 31

October 9, 2018 | David Smith

Since 2015, the R Consortium has funded projects of benefit to, and proposed by, the R community. Twice a year, the R Consortium Infrastructure Steering Committee reviews grant proposals and makes awards based on merit and funds available. (Those funds come, in turn, from the annual dues paid by R Consortium ... [Read more...]

A few upcoming R conferences

October 5, 2018 | David Smith

Here are some conferences focused on R taking place in the next few months: Oct 26: Nor'eastR Conference (Providence, RI). A one-day R conference, organized by grassroots R community members in the Northeastern US. Oct 27: SatRdays Belgrade (Serbia). Another city joins the popular SatRDays series of one-day, community led conferences. Nov 7: ... [Read more...]

In case you missed it: September 2018 roundup

October 3, 2018 | David Smith

In case you missed them, here are some articles from September of particular interest to R users. R code by Barry Rowlingson to replicate an XKCD comic about curve fitting. The rayshader package creates 3-D relief maps in R with perspective, shadows, and depth of field. The R Developer's Guide ... [Read more...]
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