Interview JJ Allaire Founder, RStudio

Here is an interview with JJ Allaire, founder of RStudio. RStudio is the IDE that has overtaken other IDE within the R Community in terms of ease of usage. On the eve of their latest product launch, JJ talks to DecisionStats on RStudio and more.

Ajay-  So what is new in the latest version of RStudio and how exactly is it useful for people?

JJ- The initial release of RStudio as well as the two follow-up releases we did last year were focused on the core elements of using R: editing and running code, getting help, and managing files, history, workspaces, plots, and packages. In the meantime users have also been asking for some bigger features that would improve the overall work-flow of doing analysis with R. In this release (v0.95) we focused on three of these features:

Projects. R developers tend to have several (and often dozens) of working contexts associated with different clients, analyses, data sets, etc. RStudio projects make it easy to keep these contexts well separated (with distinct R sessions, working directories, environments, command histories, and active source documents), switch quickly between project contexts, and even work with multiple projects at once (using multiple running versions of RStudio).

Version Control. The benefits of using version control for collaboration are well known, but we also believe that solo data analysis can achieve significant productivity gains by using version control (this discussion on Stack Overflow talks about why). In this release we introduced integrated support for the two most popular open-source version control systems: Git and Subversion. This includes changelist management, file diffing, and browsing of project history, all right from within RStudio.

Code Navigation. When you look at how programmers work a surprisingly large amount of time is spent simply navigating from one context to another. Modern programming environments for general purpose languages like C++ and Java solve this problem using various forms of code navigation, and in this release we’ve brought these capabilities to R. The two main features here are the ability to type the name of any file or function in your project and go immediately to it; and the ability to navigate to the definition of any function under your cursor (including the definition of functions within packages) using a keystroke (F2) or mouse gesture (Ctrl+Click).

Ajay- What’s the product road map for RStudio? When can we expect the IDE to turn into a full fledged GUI?

JJ- Linus Torvalds has said that “Linux is evolution, not intelligent design.” RStudio tries to operate on a similar principle—the world of statistical computing is too deep, diverse, and ever-changing for any one person or vendor to map out in advance what is most important. So, our internal process is to ship a new release every few months, listen to what people are doing with the product (and hope to do with it), and then start from scratch again making the improvements that are considered most important.

Right now some of the things which seem to be top of mind for users are improved support for authoring and reproducible research, various editor enhancements including code folding, and debugging tools.

What you’ll see is us do in a given release is to work on a combination of frequently requested features, smaller improvements to usability and work-flow, bug fixes, and finally architectural changes required to support current or future feature requirements.

While we do try to base what we work on as closely as possible on direct user-feedback, we also adhere to some core principles concerning the overall philosophy and direction of the product. So for example the answer to the question about the IDE turning into a full-fledged GUI is: never. We believe that textual representations of computations provide fundamental advantages in transparency, reproducibility, collaboration, and re-usability. We believe that writing code is simply the right way to do complex technical work, so we’ll always look for ways to make coding better, faster, and easier rather than try to eliminate coding altogether.

Ajay -Describe your journey in science from a high school student to your present work in R. I noticed you have been very successful in making software products that have been mostly proprietary products or sold to companies.

Why did you get into open source products with RStudio? What are your plans for monetizing RStudio further down the line?

JJ- In high school and college my principal areas of study were Political Science and Economics. I also had a very strong parallel interest in both computing and quantitative analysis. My first job out of college was as a financial analyst at a government agency. The tools I used in that job were SAS and Excel. I had a dim notion that there must be a better way to marry computation and data analysis than those tools, but of course no concept of what this would look like.

From there I went more in the direction of general purpose computing, starting a couple of companies where I worked principally on programming languages and authoring tools for the Web. These companies produced proprietary software, which at the time (between 1995 and 2005) was a workable model because it allowed us to build the revenue required to fund development and to promote and distribute the software to a wider audience.

By 2005 it was however becoming clear that proprietary software would ultimately be overtaken by open source software in nearly all domains. The cost of development had shrunken dramatically thanks to both the availability of high-quality open source languages and tools as well as the scale of global collaboration possible on open source projects. The cost of promoting and distributing software had also collapsed thanks to efficiency of both distribution and information diffusion on the Web.

When I heard about R and learned more about it, I become very excited and inspired by what the project had accomplished. A group of extremely talented and dedicated users had created the software they needed for their work and then shared the fruits of that work with everyone. R was a platform that everyone could rally around because it worked so well, was extensible in all the right ways, and most importantly was free (as in speech) so users could depend upon it as a long-term foundation for their work.

So I started RStudio with the aim of making useful contributions to the R community. We started with building an IDE because it seemed like a first-rate development environment for R that was both powerful and easy to use was an unmet need. Being aware that many other companies had built successful businesses around open-source software, we were also convinced that we could make RStudio available under a free and open-source license (the AGPLv3) while still creating a viable business. At this point RStudio is exclusively focused on creating the best IDE for R that we can. As the core product gets where it needs to be over the next couple of years we’ll then also begin to sell other products and services related to R and RStudio.

About-

http://rstudio.org/docs/about

Jjallaire

JJ Allaire

JJ Allaire is a software engineer and entrepreneur who has created a wide variety of products including ColdFusion,Windows Live WriterLose It!, and RStudio.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_J._Allaire
In 1995 Joseph J. (JJ) Allaire co-founded Allaire Corporation with his brother Jeremy Allaire, creating the web development tool ColdFusion.[1] In March 2001, Allaire was sold to Macromedia where ColdFusion was integrated into the Macromedia MX product line. Macromedia was subsequently acquired by Adobe Systems, which continues to develop and market ColdFusion.
After the sale of his company, Allaire became frustrated at the difficulty of keeping track of research he was doing using Google. To address this problem, he co-founded Onfolio in 2004 with Adam Berrey, former Allaire co-founder and VP of Marketing at Macromedia.
On March 8, 2006, Onfolio was acquired by Microsoft where many of the features of the original product are being incorporated into the Windows Live Toolbar. On August 13, 2006, Microsoft released the public beta of a new desktop blogging client called Windows Live Writer that was created by Allaire’s team at Microsoft.
Starting in 2009, Allaire has been developing a web-based interface to the widely used R technical computing environment. A beta version of RStudio was publicly released on February 28, 2011.
JJ Allaire received his B.A. from Macalester College (St. Paul, MN) in 1991.
RStudio-

RStudio is an integrated development environment (IDE) for R which works with the standard version of R available from CRAN. Like R, RStudio is available under a free software license. RStudio is designed to be as straightforward and intuitive as possible to provide a friendly environment for new and experienced R users alike. RStudio is also a company, and they plan to sell services (support, training, consulting, hosting) related to the open-source software they distribute.

Indian Govt tries to censor Internet

Stupidity is contiguous  and Stupid Politicians are legion.

From-

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204542404577158342623999990.html?mod=WSJINDIA_hpp_LEFTTopStories

Google Inc. and Facebook Inc. are fighting back against increasing censorship demands from the Indian government and courts, arguing that they aren’t legally responsible for monitoring their websites and proactively removing user content that regulators deem objectionable.

The big threat for the companies at the moment is a lawsuit in a New Delhi trial court, which seeks to hold them and several other websites criminally liable for not censoring online content, including material that mocks or criticizes religious and political figures.

Read more: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204542404577158342623999990.html#ixzz1jVPdAsNT

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One not so apparent reason for Indian Govt to censor Internet is that the internet and social media were used for massive anti-Govt and anti-corruption protests in 2011. The Govt found itself on the backfoot, newspapers and television in India are generally considered pliable and manipulable by Govt  of  India (thanks to ad spends).Judiciary in India is also not known to be 100% honest or resistant of political pressures.

The incumbent Congress govt needs more legal weapons in its arsenal given elections are approaching this year in many states, and the need for more arrows in legal quivers  in India against the Internet is an inevitable and unfortunate next step. Since this is a global phenomenon (read- SOPA debate in US) ,and the huge huge internet population in India- this is one interesting battle to watch.

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Ads Alliance on Internet

Just saw

the Digital Advertising Alliance’s (DAA) Self-Regulatory Program for Online Behavioral Advertising.

Multi-Site Data Collection Principles Broaden Self Regulation Beyond Online Behavioral Advertising
WASHINGTON, D.C., NOVEMBER 7, 2011

The new Principles consist of the following specific requirements:

  1. Transparency and consumer control for purposes other than OBA – The Multi-Site Data Principles call for organizations that collect Multi-Site Data for purposes other than OBA to provide transparency and control regarding Internet surfing across unrelated Websites.
  2. Collection / use of data for eligibility determination – The Multi-Site Data Principles prohibit the collection, use or transfer of Internet surfing data across Websites for determination of a consumer’s eligibility for employment, credit standing, healthcare treatment and insurance.
  3. Collection / use of children’s data – The Multi-Site Data Principles state that organizations must comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
  4. Meaningful accountability – The Multi-Site Data Principles are subject to enforcement through strong accountability mechanisms.

http://www.aboutads.info/principles

The DAA Self-Regulatory Principles

 

The cross-industry Self-Regulatory Principles for Multi-Site Data augment the Self-Regulatory   Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising  (OBA)  by covering the prospective  collection of Web site   data beyond that collected for OBA purposes.  The existing OBA  Principles and definitions  remain in   full force and effect and are not limited by the new  principles.

The cross-industry Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising was developed by   leading industry associations to apply  consumer-friendly standards to online  behavioral advertising  across the Internet. Online behavioral advertising increasingly supports the convenient access to  content, services, and applications over the Internet that consumers have come to expect at no cost   to them.

The Education Principle calls for organizations to participate in efforts to educate individuals and businesses about online behavioral advertising and the Principles.

The Transparency Principle calls for clearer and easily accessible disclosures to consumers about data collection and use practices associated with online behavioral advertising. It will result in new, enhanced notice on the page where data is collected through links embedded in or around advertisements, or on the Web page itself.

The Consumer Control Principle provides consumers with an expanded ability to choose whether data is collected and used for online behavioral advertising purposes. This choice will be available through a link from the notice provided on the Web page where data is collected.

The Consumer Control Principle requires “service providers”, a term that includes Internet access service providers and providers of desktop applications software such as Web browser “tool bars” to obtain the consent of users before engaging in online behavioral advertising, and take steps to de-identify the data used for such purposes.

The Data Security Principle calls for organizations to provide appropriate security for, and limited retention of data, collected and used for online behavioral advertising purposes.

The Material Changes Principle calls for obtaining consumer consent before a Material Change is made to an entity’s Online Behavioral Advertising data collection and use policies unless that change will result in less collection or use of data.

The Sensitive Data Principle recognizes that data collected from children and used for online behavioral advertising merits heightened protection, and requires parental consent for behavioral advertising to consumers known to be under 13 on child-directed Web sites. This Principle also provides heightened protections to certain health and financial data when attributable to a specific individual.

The Accountability Principle calls for development of programs to further advance these Principles, including programs to monitor and report instances of uncorrected non-compliance with these Principles to appropriate government agencies. The CBBB and DMA have been asked and agreed to work cooperatively to establish accountability mechanisms under the Principles.

 

Ajay- So why the self regulations?

Answer- Shoddy Maths in behaviorally targeted ads is leading to a very high glut in targeted ads, more than can be reasonably expected to click based on consumer spending. On the internet- unlike on television- cost is less of a barrrier to OVER ADVERTISING.

 

Interview Markus Schmidberger ,Cloudnumbers.com

Here is an interview with Markus Schmidberger, Senior Community Manager for cloudnumbers.com. Cloudnumbers.com is the exciting new cloud startup for scientific computing. It basically enables transition to a R and other platforms in the cloud and makes it very easy and secure from the traditional desktop/server model of operation.

Ajay- Describe the startup story for setting up Cloudnumbers.com

Markus- In 2010 the company founders Erik Muttersbach (TU München), Markus Fensterer (TU München) and Moritz v. Petersdorff-Campen (WHU Vallendar) started with the development of the cloud computing environment. Continue reading “Interview Markus Schmidberger ,Cloudnumbers.com”

Interview Dan Steinberg Founder Salford Systems

Here is an interview with Dan Steinberg, Founder and President of Salford Systems (http://www.salford-systems.com/ )

Ajay- Describe your journey from academia to technology entrepreneurship. What are the key milestones or turning points that you remember.

 Dan- When I was in graduate school studying econometrics at Harvard,  a number of distinguished professors at Harvard (and MIT) were actively involved in substantial real world activities.  Professors that I interacted with, or studied with, or whose software I used became involved in the creation of such companies as Sun Microsystems, Data Resources, Inc. or were heavily involved in business consulting through their own companies or other influential consultants.  Some not involved in private sector consulting took on substantial roles in government such as membership on the President’s Council of Economic Advisors. The atmosphere was one that encouraged free movement between academia and the private sector so the idea of forming a consulting and software company was quite natural and did not seem in any way inconsistent with being devoted to the advancement of science.

 Ajay- What are the latest products by Salford Systems? Any future product plans or modification to work on Big Data analytics, mobile computing and cloud computing.

 Dan- Our central set of data mining technologies are CART, MARS, TreeNet, RandomForests, and PRIM, and we have always maintained feature rich logistic regression and linear regression modules. In our latest release scheduled for January 2012 we will be including a new data mining approach to linear and logistic regression allowing for the rapid processing of massive numbers of predictors (e.g., one million columns), with powerful predictor selection and coefficient shrinkage. The new methods allow not only classic techniques such as ridge and lasso regression, but also sub-lasso model sizes. Clear tradeoff diagrams between model complexity (number of predictors) and predictive accuracy allow the modeler to select an ideal balance suitable for their requirements.

The new version of our data mining suite, Salford Predictive Modeler (SPM), also includes two important extensions to the boosted tree technology at the heart of TreeNet.  The first, Importance Sampled learning Ensembles (ISLE), is used for the compression of TreeNet tree ensembles. Starting with, say, a 1,000 tree ensemble, the ISLE compression might well reduce this down to 200 reweighted trees. Such compression will be valuable when models need to be executed in real time. The compression rate is always under the modeler’s control, meaning that if a deployed model may only contain, say, 30 trees, then the compression will deliver an optimal 30-tree weighted ensemble. Needless to say, compression of tree ensembles should be expected to be lossy and how much accuracy is lost when extreme compression is desired will vary from case to case. Prior to ISLE, practitioners have simply truncated the ensemble to the maximum allowable size.  The new methodology will substantially outperform truncation.

The second major advance is RULEFIT, a rule extraction engine that starts with a TreeNet model and decomposes it into the most interesting and predictive rules. RULEFIT is also a tree ensemble post-processor and offers the possibility of improving on the original TreeNet predictive performance. One can think of the rule extraction as an alternative way to explain and interpret an otherwise complex multi-tree model. The rules extracted are similar conceptually to the terminal nodes of a CART tree but the various rules will not refer to mutually exclusive regions of the data.

 Ajay- You have led teams that have won multiple data mining competitions. What are some of your favorite techniques or approaches to a data mining problem.

 Dan- We only enter competitions involving problems for which our technology is suitable, generally, classification and regression. In these areas, we are  partial to TreeNet because it is such a capable and robust learning machine. However, we always find great value in analyzing many aspects of a data set with CART, especially when we require a compact and easy to understand story about the data. CART is exceptionally well suited to the discovery of errors in data, often revealing errors created by the competition organizers themselves. More than once, our reports of data problems have been responsible for the competition organizer’s decision to issue a corrected version of the data and we have been the only group to discover the problem.

In general, tackling a data mining competition is no different than tackling any analytical challenge. You must start with a solid conceptual grasp of the problem and the actual objectives, and the nature and limitations of the data. Following that comes feature extraction, the selection of a modeling strategy (or strategies), and then extensive experimentation to learn what works best.

 Ajay- I know you have created your own software. But are there other software that you use or liked to use?

 Dan- For analytics we frequently test open source software to make sure that our tools will in fact deliver the superior performance we advertise. In general, if a problem clearly requires technology other than that offered by Salford, we advise clients to seek other consultants expert in that other technology.

 Ajay- Your software is installed at 3500 sites including 400 universities as per http://www.salford-systems.com/company/aboutus/index.html What is the key to managing and keeping so many customers happy?

 Dan- First, we have taken great pains to make our software reliable and we make every effort  to avoid problems related to bugs.  Our testing procedures are extensive and we have experts dedicated to stress-testing software . Second, our interface is designed to be natural, intuitive, and easy to use, so the challenges to the new user are minimized. Also, clear documentation, help files, and training videos round out how we allow the user to look after themselves. Should a client need to contact us we try to achieve 24-hour turn around on tech support issues and monitor all tech support activity to ensure timeliness, accuracy, and helpfulness of our responses. WebEx/GotoMeeting and other internet based contact permit real time interaction.

 Ajay- What do you do to relax and unwind?

 Dan- I am in the gym almost every day combining weight and cardio training. No matter how tired I am before the workout I always come out energized so locating a good gym during my extensive travels is a must. I am also actively learning Portuguese so I look to watch a Brazilian TV show or Portuguese dubbed movie when I have time; I almost never watch any form of video unless it is available in Portuguese.

 Biography-

http://www.salford-systems.com/blog/dan-steinberg.html

Dan Steinberg, President and Founder of Salford Systems, is a well-respected member of the statistics and econometrics communities. In 1992, he developed the first PC-based implementation of the original CART procedure, working in concert with Leo Breiman, Richard Olshen, Charles Stone and Jerome Friedman. In addition, he has provided consulting services on a number of biomedical and market research projects, which have sparked further innovations in the CART program and methodology.

Dr. Steinberg received his Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University, and has given full day presentations on data mining for the American Marketing Association, the Direct Marketing Association and the American Statistical Association. After earning a PhD in Econometrics at Harvard Steinberg began his professional career as a Member of the Technical Staff at Bell Labs, Murray Hill, and then as Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of California, San Diego. A book he co-authored on Classification and Regression Trees was awarded the 1999 Nikkei Quality Control Literature Prize in Japan for excellence in statistical literature promoting the improvement of industrial quality control and management.

His consulting experience at Salford Systems has included complex modeling projects for major banks worldwide, including Citibank, Chase, American Express, Credit Suisse, and has included projects in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Korea, Japan and Brazil. Steinberg led the teams that won first place awards in the KDDCup 2000, and the 2002 Duke/TeraData Churn modeling competition, and the teams that won awards in the PAKDD competitions of 2006 and 2007. He has published papers in economics, econometrics, computer science journals, and contributes actively to the ongoing research and development at Salford.

Text Analytics World in New York

There is a 15 % discount if you want to register for Text Analytics World next month-

Use Discount Code AJAYNY11

October 19-20, 2011 at The Hilton New York

http://www.textanalyticsworld.com/newyork/2011

Text Analytics World Topics & Case Studies - Oct 19-20 in NYC

Text Analytics World NYC (tawgo.com) is the business-focused event for text analytics professionals,
managers and commercial practitioners. This conference delivers case studies, expertise and resources
to leverage unstructured data for business impact.
Text Analytics World NYC is packed with the top predictive analytics experts, practitioners, authors and
business thought leaders, including keynote addresses from Thomas Davenport, author of Competing
on Analytics: The New Science of Winning, David Gondek from IBM Research on their Jeopardy-Winning
Watson and DeepQA, and PAW Program Chair Eric Siegel, plus special sessions from industry heavy-
weights Usama Fayyad and John Elder.
CASE STUDIES:

TAW New York City will feature over 25 sessions with case studies from leading enterprises in
automotive, educational, e-commerce, financial services, government, high technology, insurance,
retail, social media, and telecom such as: Accident Fund, Amdocs, Bundle.com, Citibank, Florida State
College, Google, Intuit, MetLife, Mitchell1, PayPal, Snap-on, Socialmediatoday, Topsy, a Fortune 500
global technology company, plus special examples from U.S. government agencies DoD, DHS, and SSA.

HOT TOPICS:

TAW New York City's agenda covers hot topics and advanced methods such as churn risk detection,
customer service and call centers, decision support, document discovery, document filtering, financial
indicators from social media, fraud detection, government applications, insurance applications,
knowledge discovery, open question-answering, parallelized text analysis, risk profiling, sentiment
analysis, social media applications, survey analysis, topic discovery, and voice of the customer and other
innovative applications that benefit organizations in new and creative ways.

WORKSHOPS: TAW also features a full-day, hands-on text analytics workshop, plus several other pre-
and post-conference workshops in analytics that complement the core conference program. For more
info: www.tawgo.com/newyork/2011/analytics-workshops
For more information: tawgo.com
Download the conference preview:
Conference Preview for TAW New York, October 19-20 2011
View the agenda at-a-glance: textanalyticsworld.com/newyork/2011/agenda Register by September 2nd for Early Bird Rates (save up to $200): textanalyticsworld.com/newyork/2011/registration If you'd like our informative event updates, sign up at: http://www.textanalyticsworld.com/subscription.php To sign up for TAW group on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/e/gis/3869759 For inquiries e-mail regsupport@risingmedia.com or call (717) 798-3495. OTHER ANALYTICS EVENTS: Predictive Analytics World for Government: Sept 12-13 in DC – www.pawgov.com Predictive Analytics World New York City: Oct 16-21 – www.pawcon.com/nyc Text Analytics World New York City: Oct 19-20 – www.tawgo.com/nyc Predictive Analytics World London: Nov 30-Dec 1 – www.pawcon.com/london Predictive Analytics World San Francisco: March 4-10, 2012 – www.pawcon.com/sanfrancisco Predictive Analytics World Videos: Available on-demand – www.pawcon.com/video
Also has two sessions on R

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Half-day Workshop
Room: Madison

R Bootcamp
Click here for the detailed workshop description

  • Workshop starts at 1:00pm
  • Afternoon Coffee Break at 2:30pm – 3:00pm
  • End of the Workshop: 5:00pm

Instructor: Max Kuhn, Director, Nonclinical Statistics, Pfizer

Top of this page ] [ Agenda overview ]

Monday, October 17, 2011


Full-day Workshop
Room: Madison

R for Predictive Modeling: A Hands-On Introduction
Click here for the detailed workshop description

  • Workshop starts at 9:00am
  • Morning Coffee Break at 10:30am – 11:00am
  • Lunch provided at 12:30 – 1:15pm
  • Afternoon Coffee Break at 2:30pm – 3:00pm
  • End of the Workshop: 4:30pm

Instructor: Max Kuhn, Director, Nonclinical Statistics, Pfizer

Early Bird Discount- Conferences

Message from PAW and TAW conferences

 

The PAW and TAW New York City Early Bird discounts end this Friday.

———————–

– NEXT WEEK: PAW for Government, Sept 12-13, in Washington DC. An amazing line-up of keynotes including Congressman Darrell Issa. Coverage of predictive analytics deployment by over a dozen government agencies. See www.pawgov.com

– Predictive Analytics World NYC – Oct 16-21 – Early Bird Pricing ends this Friday, Sept 9 – register now to save $400 over the full price. Three tracks, over 40 sessions, keynotes from Davenport and from IBM Research on their Jeopardy-Winning Watson – plus much more. Seewww.pawcon.com/nyc

– Text Analytics World NYC (Oct 16-21) also ends Early Bird Pricing this Friday, Sept 9 – register now to save $400 over the full price. Over 25 sessions with case studies from Accident Fund, Amdocs, Bundle.com, Citibank, Google, Intuit, MetLife, PayPal, and much more. See www.tawgo.com/nyc

– PAW London: Nov 30 – Dec 1. Case studies from BBC, GSK, HP, ING, Lloyds TSB, Paychex, US Bank, Yahoo!, and more. See www.pawcon.com/london

– PAW and TAW San Francisco: Mar 4-10 2012 – Save-the-date and call-for-speakers. Seewww.pawcon.com/submit.php and www.tawgo.com/call-for-speakers

* For informative event updates: www.pawcon.com/signup-us.php

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