Stat Computing Visions from the Past

November 18, 2010

(This article was first published on Statistical Graphics and more » R, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

I recently stumbled upon an old paper of a presentation I gave at the Interface conference in 1998, entitled “JAVA – the next Generation of Statistical Computing?”:

It is very interesting to compare the things I envisioned 12 years ago and what actually came true. Here are some topics:

  • Did Java change a whole lot (in statcomp)? No
  • Did anybody had an idea that S-Plus would be flattened by R? No, although “the 2 Rs” did announce the “going public” of R at the very same conference …
  • Did a package based system become a success in statcomp? Yes, with R and not with Java as I would have thought 12 years ago.
  • Do we have data in the “network”? Yes, but now we call it “the cloud”
  • Did Java help to get better interfaces for statistical tools? No, not really. Most of them are as bad as they used to be 12 years ago.
  • Do we do statistics “within the browser” by now? No, neither with applets nor with other technologies at hand today. Yes, there are things like Many Eyes, but they can’t be used to actually analyze data.

What did you think what statcomp would look in the future 12 years ago? Should we be happy or should we be disappointed?

PS: Yes, I stole the idea of the paper thumbnail from Robert’s eagereyes – but I am confident he won’t mind …

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