Blog Archives

Book Review: Testing R Code

March 16, 2017
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Book Review: Testing R Code

When it comes to getting things right in data science, most of the focus goes to the data and the statistical methodology used. But when a misplaced parenthesis can throw off your results entirely, ensuring correctness in your programming is just as important. A new book published by CRC Press, Testing R Code by Richard (Richie) Cotton, provides all...

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Neural Networks: How they work, and how to train them in R

March 15, 2017
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With the current focus on deep learning, neural networks are all the rage again. (Neural networks have been described for more than 60 years, but it wasn't until the the power of modern computing systems became available that they have been successfully applied to tasks like image recognition.) Neural networks are the fundamental predictive engine in deep learning systems,...

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Benchmarking rxNeuralNet for OCR

March 13, 2017
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Benchmarking rxNeuralNet for OCR

The MicrosoftML package introduced with Microsoft R Server 9.0 added several new functions for high-performance machine learning, including rxNeuralNet. Tomaz Kastrun recently applied rxNeuralNet to the MNIST database of handwritten digits to compare its performance with two other machine learning packages, h2o and xgboost. The results are summarized in the chart below: In addition to having the best performance...

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Updates to the Data Science Virtual Machine for Linux

March 10, 2017
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Updates to the Data Science Virtual Machine for Linux

The Data Science Virtual Machine (DSVM) is a virtual machine image on the Azure Marketplace assembled for data scientists. The goal of the DSVM is provide a broad array of popular data-oriented tools in a single environment, and make data scientists and developers highly productive in their work. It's available for both Windows and Linux, and the Linux edition...

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The Rise of Civilization, Visualized with R

March 9, 2017
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The Rise of Civilization, Visualized with R

This animation by geographer James Cheshire shows something at once simple and profound: the founding and growth of the cities of the world since the dawn of civilization. Dr Cheshire created the animation using R and the rworldmap package, using data from this Nature dataset. The complete R code is provided in the blog post linked below, and you...

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In case you missed it: February 2017 roundup

March 7, 2017
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In case you missed them, here are some articles from February of particular interest to R users. Public policy researchers use R to predict neighbourhoods in US cities subject to gentrification. The ggraph package provides a grammar-of-graphics framework for visualizing directed and undirected graphs. Facebook has open-sourced the "prophet" package they use for forecasting time series at scale. A...

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R 3.3.3 now available

March 6, 2017
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The R core group announced today the release of R 3.3.3 (code-name: "Another Canoe"). As the wrap-up release of the R 3.3 series, this update mainly contains minor bug-fixes. (Bigger changes are planned for R 3.4.0, expected in mid-April.) Binaries for the Windows version are already up on the CRAN master site, and binaries for all platforms will appear...

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Find modern, interactive web-based charts for R at the htmlwidgets gallery

March 3, 2017
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Find modern, interactive web-based charts for R at the htmlwidgets gallery

While R's base graphics library is almost limitlessly flexible when it comes to create static graphics and data visualizations, new Web-based technologies like d3 and webgl open up new horizons in high-resolution, rescalable and interactive charts. Graphics built with these libraries can easily be embedded in a webpage, can be dynamically resized while maintaining readable fonts and clear lines,...

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Predicting the length of a hospital stay, with R

March 2, 2017
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Predicting the length of a hospital stay, with R

I haven't been admitted to hospital many times in my life, but every time the only thing I really cared about was: when am I going to get out? It's also a question that weighs heavily on hospital managers: by knowing ahead of time how long each patient's stay is likely to be, they can better manage facilities and...

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Scholarships encourage diversity at useR!2017

March 1, 2017
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While representation of women and minorities at last year's useR! conference was the highest it's ever been, there is always room for more diversity. To encourage more underrepresented individuals to attend, the useR! committee has taken several steps, including asking attendees to adhere to a supportive code of conduct and by providing childcare at the conference venue in Brussels....

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