Interview Michal Kosinski , Concerto Web Based App using #Rstats

Here is an interview with Michal Kosinski , leader of the team that has created Concerto – a web based application using R. What is Concerto? As per http://www.psychometrics.cam.ac.uk/page/300/concerto-testing-platform.htm

Concerto is a web based, adaptive testing platform for creating and running rich, dynamic tests. It combines the flexibility of HTML presentation with the computing power of the R language, and the safety and performance of the MySQL database. It’s totally free for commercial and academic use, and it’s open source

Ajay-  Describe your career in science from high school to this point. What are the various stats platforms you have trained on- and what do you think about their comparative advantages and disadvantages?  

Michal- I started with maths, but quickly realized that I prefer social sciences – thus after one year, I switched to a psychology major and obtained my MSc in Social Psychology with a specialization in Consumer Behaviour. At that time I was mostly using SPSS – as it was the only statistical package that was taught to students in my department. Also, it was not too bad for small samples and the rather basic analyses I was performing at that time.

 

My more recent research performed during my Mphil course in Psychometrics at Cambridge University followed by my current PhD project in social networks and research work at Microsoft Research, requires significantly more powerful tools. Initially, I tried to squeeze as much as possible from SPSS/PASW by mastering the syntax language. SPSS was all I knew, though I reached its limits pretty quickly and was forced to switch to R. It was a pretty dreary experience at the start, switching from an unwieldy but familiar environment into an unwelcoming command line interface, but I’ve quickly realized how empowering and convenient this tool was.

 

I believe that a course in R should be obligatory for all students that are likely to come close to any data analysis in their careers. It is really empowering – once you got the basics you have the potential to use virtually any method there is, and automate most tasks related to analysing and processing data. It is also free and open-source – so you can use it wherever you work. Finally, it enables you to quickly and seamlessly migrate to other powerful environments such as Matlab, C, or Python.

Ajay- What was the motivation behind building Concerto?

Michal- We deal with a lot of online projects at the Psychometrics Centre – one of them attracted more than 7 million unique participants. We needed a powerful tool that would allow researchers and practitioners to conveniently build and deliver online tests.

Also, our relationships with the website designers and software engineers that worked on developing our tests were rather difficult. We had trouble successfully explaining our needs, each little change was implemented with a delay and at significant cost. Not to mention the difficulties with embedding some more advanced methods (such as adaptive testing) in our tests.

So we created a tool allowing us, psychometricians, to easily develop psychometric tests from scratch an publish them online. And all this without having to hire software developers.

Ajay -Why did you choose R as the background for Concerto? What other languages and platforms did you consider. Apart from Concerto, how else do you utilize R in your center, department and University?

Michal- R was a natural choice as it is open-source, free, and nicely integrates with a server environment. Also, we believe that it is becoming a universal statistical and data processing language in science. We put increasing emphasis on teaching R to our students and we hope that it will replace SPSS/PASW as a default statistical tool for social scientists.

Ajay -What all can Concerto do besides a computer adaptive test?

Michal- We did not plan it initially, but Concerto turned out to be extremely flexible. In a nutshell, it is a web interface to R engine with a built-in MySQL database and easy-to-use developer panel. It can be installed on both Windows and Unix systems and used over the network or locally.

Effectively, it can be used to build any kind of web application that requires a powerful and quickly deployable statistical engine. For instance, I envision an easy to use website (that could look a bit like SPSS) allowing students to analyse their data using a web browser alone (learning the underlying R code simultaneously). Also, the authors of R libraries (or anyone else) could use Concerto to build user-friendly web interfaces to their methods.

Finally, Concerto can be conveniently used to build simple non-adaptive tests and questionnaires. It might seem to be slightly less intuitive at first than popular questionnaire services (such us my favourite Survey Monkey), but has virtually unlimited flexibility when it comes to item format, test flow, feedback options, etc. Also, it’s free.

Ajay- How do you see the cloud computing paradigm growing? Do you think browser based computation is here to stay?

Michal – I believe that cloud infrastructure is the future. Dynamically sharing computational and network resources between online service providers has a great competitive advantage over traditional strategies to deal with network infrastructure. I am sure the security concerns will be resolved soon, finishing the transformation of the network infrastructure as we know it. On the other hand, however, I do not see a reason why client-side (or browser) processing of the information should cease to exist – I rather think that the border between the cloud and personal or local computer will continually dissolve.

About

Michal Kosinski is Director of Operations for The Psychometrics Centre and Leader of the e-Psychometrics Unit. He is also a research advisor to the Online Services and Advertising group at the Microsoft Research Cambridge, and a visiting lecturer at the Department of Mathematics in the University of Namur, Belgium. You can read more about him at http://www.michalkosinski.com/

You can read more about Concerto at http://code.google.com/p/concerto-platform/ and http://www.psychometrics.cam.ac.uk/page/300/concerto-testing-platform.htm

Interview Eberhard Miethke and Dr. Mamdouh Refaat, Angoss Software

Here is an interview with Eberhard Miethke and Dr. Mamdouh Refaat, of Angoss Software. Angoss is a global leader in delivering business intelligence software and predictive analytics solutions that help businesses capitalize on their data by uncovering new opportunities to increase sales and profitability and to reduce risk.

Ajay-  Describe your personal journey in software. How can we guide young students to pursue more useful software development than just gaming applications.

 Mamdouh- I started using computers long time ago when they were programmed using punched cards! First in Fortran, then C, later C++, and then the rest. Computers and software were viewed as technical/engineering tools, and that’s why we can still see the heavy technical orientation of command languages such as Unix shells and even in the windows Command shell. However, with the introduction of database systems and Microsoft office apps, it was clear that business will be the primary user and field of application for software. My personal trip in software started with scientific applications, then business and database systems, and finally statistical software – which you can think of it as returning to the more scientific orientation. However, with the wide acceptance of businesses of the application of statistical methods in different fields such as marketing and risk management, it is a fast growing field that in need of a lot of innovation.

Ajay – Angoss makes multiple data mining and analytics products. could you please introduce us to your product portfolio and what specific data analytics need they serve.

a- Attached please find our main product flyers for KnowledgeSTUDIO and KnowledgeSEEKER. We have a 3rd product called “strategy builder” which is an add-on to the decision tree modules. This is also described in the flyer.

(see- Angoss Knowledge Studio Product Guide April2011  and http://www.scribd.com/doc/63176430/Angoss-Knowledge-Seeker-Product-Guide-April2011  )

Ajay-  The trend in analytics is for big data and cloud computing- with hadoop enabling processing of massive data sets on scalable infrastructure. What are your plans for cloud computing, tablet based as well as mobile based computing.

a- This is an area where the plan is still being figured out in all organizations. The current explosion of data collected from mobile phones, text messages, and social websites will need radically new applications that can utilize the data from these sources. Current applications are based on the relational database paradigm designed in the 70’s through the 90’s of the 20th century.

But data sources are generating data in volumes and formats that are challenging this paradigm and will need a set of new tools and possibly programming languages to fit these needs. The cloud computing, tablet based and mobile computing (which are the same thing in my opinion, just different sizes of the device) are also two technologies that have not been explored in analytics yet.

The approach taken so far by most companies, including Angoss, is to rely on new xml-based standards to represent data structures for the particular models. In this case, it is the PMML (predictive modelling mark-up language) standard, in order to allow the interoperability between analytics applications. Standardizing on the representation of models is viewed as the first step in order to allow the implementation of these models to emerging platforms, being that the cloud or mobile, or social networking websites.

The second challenge cited above is the rapidly increasing size of the data to be analyzed. Angoss has already identified this challenge early on and is currently offering in-database analytics drivers for several database engines: Netezza, Teradata and SQL Server.

These drivers allow our analytics products to translate their routines into efficient SQL-based scripts that run in the database engine to exploit its performance as well as the powerful hardware on which it runs. Thus, instead of copying the data to a staging format for analytics, these drivers allow the data to be analyzed “in-place” within the database without moving it.

Thus offering performance, security and integrity. The performance is improved because of the use of the well tuned database engines running on powerful hardware.

Extra security is achieved by not copying the data to other platforms, which could be less secure. And finally, the integrity of the results are vastly improved by making sure that the results are always obtained by analyzing the up-to-date data residing in the database rather than an older copy of the data which could be obsolete by the time the analysis is concluded.

Ajay- What are the principal competing products to your offerings, and what makes your products special or differentiated in value to them (for each customer segment).

a- There are two major players in today’s market that we usually encounter as competitors, they are: SAS and IBM.

SAS offers a data mining workbench in the form of SAS Enterprise Miner, which is closely tied to SAS data mining methodology known as SEMMA.

On the other hand, IBM has recently acquired SPSS, which offered its Clementine data mining software. IBM has now rebranded Clementine as IBM SPSS Modeller.

In comparison to these products, our KnowledgeSTUDIO and KnowledgeSEEKER offer three main advantages: ease of use; affordability; and ease of integration into existing BI environments.

Angoss products were designed to look-and-feel-like popular Microsoft office applications. This makes the learning curve indeed very steep. Typically, an intermediate level analyst needs only 2-3 days of training to become proficient in the use of the software with all its advanced features.

Another important feature of Angoss software products is their integration with SAS/base product, and SQL-based database engines. All predictive models generated by Angoss can be automatically translated to SAS and SQL scripts. This allows the generation of scoring code for these common platforms. While the software interface simplifies all the tasks to allow business users to take advantage of the value added by predictive models, the software includes advanced options to allow experienced statisticians to fine-tune their models by adjusting all model parameters as needed.

In addition, Angoss offers a unique product called StrategyBuilder, which allows the analyst to add key performance indicators (KPI’s) to predictive models. KPI’s such as profitability, market share, and loyalty are usually required to be calculated in conjunction with any sales and marketing campaign. Therefore, StrategyBuilder was designed to integrate such KPI’s with the results of a predictive model in order to render the appropriate treatment for each customer segment. These results are all integrated into a deployment strategy that can also be translated into an execution code in SQL or SAS.

The above competitive features offered by the software products of Angoss is behind its success in serving over 4000 users from over 500 clients worldwide.

Ajay -Describe a major case study where using Angoss software helped save a big amount of revenue/costs by innovative data mining.

a-Rogers Telecommunications Inc. is one of the largest Canadian telecommunications providers, serving over 8.5 million customers and a revenue of 11.1 Billion Canadian Dollars (2009). In 2008, Rogers engaged Angoss in order to help with the problem of ballooning accounts receivable for a period of 18 months.

The problem was approached by improving the efficiency of the call centre serving the collections process by a set of predictive models. The first set of models were designed to find accounts likely to default ahead of time in order to take preventative measures. A second set of models were designed to optimize the call centre resources to focus on delinquent accounts likely to pay back most of the outstanding balance. Accounts that were identified as not likely to pack quickly were good candidates for “Early-out” treatment, by forwarding them directly to collection agencies. Angoss hosted Rogers’ data and provided on a regular interval the lists of accounts for each treatment to be deployed by the call centre dialler. As a result of this Rogers estimated an improvement of 10% of the collected sums.

Biography-

Mamdouh has been active in consulting, research, and training in various areas of information technology and software development for the last 20 years. He has worked on numerous projects with major organizations in North America and Europe in the areas of data mining, business analytics, business analysis, and engineering analysis. He has held several consulting positions for solution providers including Predict AG in Basel, Switzerland, and as ANGOSS Corp. Mamdouh is the Director of Professional services for EMEA region of ANGOSS Software. Mamdouh received his PhD in engineering from the University of Toronto and his MBA from the University of Leeds, UK.

Mamdouh is the author of:

"Credit Risk Scorecards: Development and Implmentation using SAS"
 "Data Preparation for Data Mining Using SAS",
 (The Morgan Kaufmann Series in Data Management Systems) (Paperback)
 and co-author of
 "Data Mining: Know it all",Morgan Kaufmann



Eberhard Miethke  works as a senior sales executive for Angoss

 

About Angoss-

Angoss is a global leader in delivering business intelligence software and predictive analytics to businesses looking to improve performance across sales, marketing and risk. With a suite of desktop, client-server and in-database software products and Software-as-a-Service solutions, Angoss delivers powerful approaches to turn information into actionable business decisions and competitive advantage.

Angoss software products and solutions are user-friendly and agile, making predictive analytics accessible and easy to use.

Changes in R software

The newest version of R is now available for download. R 2.13 is ready !!

 

http://cran.at.r-project.org/bin/windows/base/CHANGES.R-2.13.0.html

 

Windows-specific changes to R

CHANGES IN R VERSION 2.13.0

 

WINDOWS VERSION

 

  • Windows 2000 is no longer supported. (It went end-of-life in July 2010.)

 

 

 

NEW FEATURES

 

  • win_iconv has been updated: this version has a change in the behaviour with BOMs on UTF-16 and UTF-32 files – it removes BOMs when reading and adds them when writing. (This is consistent with Microsoft applications, but Unix versions of iconv usually ignore them.) 

     

  • Support for repository type win64.binary (used for 64-bit Windows binaries for R 2.11.x only) has been removed. 

     

  • The installers no longer put an ‘Uninstall’ item on the start menu (to conform to current Microsoft UI guidelines). 

     

  • Running R always sets the environment variable R_ARCH (as it does on a Unix-alike from the shell-script front-end). 

     

  • The defaults for options("browser") and options("pdfviewer") are now set from environment variables R_BROWSER and R_PDFVIEWER respectively (as on a Unix-alike). A value of "false" suppresses display (even if there is no false.exe present on the path). 

     

  • If options("install.lock") is set to TRUE, binary package installs are protected against failure similar to the way source package installs are protected. 

     

  • file.exists() and unlink() have more support for files > 2GB. 

     

  • The versions of R.exe in ‘R_HOME/bin/i386,x64/bin’ now support options such as R --vanilla CMD: there is no comparable interface for ‘Rcmd.exe’. 

     

  • A few more file operations will now work with >2GB files. 

     

  • The environment variable R_HOME in an R session now uses slash as the path separator (as it always has when set by Rcmd.exe). 

     

  • Rgui has a new menu item for the PDF ‘Sweave User Manual’.

 

 

 

DEPRECATED

 

  • zip.unpack() is deprecated: use unzip().

 

INSTALLATION

 

  • There is support for libjpeg-turbo via setting JPEGDIR to that value in ‘MkRules.local’. 

    Support for jpeg-6b has been removed.

     

  • The sources now work with libpng-1.5.1, jpegsrc.v8c (which are used in the CRAN builds) and tiff-4.0.0beta6 (CRAN builds use 3.9.1). It is possible that they no longer work with older versions than libpng-1.4.5.

 

 

 

BUG FIXES

 

  • Workaround for the incorrect values given by Windows’ casinh function on the branch cuts.
  • Bug fixes for drawing raster objects on windows(). The symptom was the occasional raster image not being drawn, especially when drawing multiple raster images in a single expression. Thanks to Michael Sumner for report and testing.
  • Printing extremely long string values could overflow the stack and cause the GUI to crash. (PR#14543)

Tonnes of changes!!

http://cran.at.r-project.org/src/base/NEWS

CHANGES IN R VERSION 2.13.0:

  SIGNIFICANT USER-VISIBLE CHANGES:

    • replicate() (by default) and vapply() (always) now return a
      higher-dimensional array instead of a matrix in the case where
      the inner function value is an array of dimension >= 2.

    • Printing and formatting of floating point numbers is now using
      the correct number of digits, where it previously rarely differed
      by a few digits. (See “scientific” entry below.)  This affects
      _many_ *.Rout.save checks in packages.

  NEW FEATURES:

    • normalizePath() has been moved to the base package (from utils):
      this is so it can be used by library() and friends.

      It now does tilde expansion.

      It gains new arguments winslash (to select the separator on
      Windows) and mustWork to control the action if a canonical path
      cannot be found.

    • The previously barely documented limit of 256 bytes on a symbol
      name has been raised to 10,000 bytes (a sanity check).  Long
      symbol names can sometimes occur when deparsing expressions (for
      example, in model.frame).

    • reformulate() gains a intercept argument.

    • cmdscale(add = FALSE) now uses the more common definition that
      there is a representation in n-1 or less dimensions, and only
      dimensions corresponding to positive eigenvalues are used.
      (Avoids confusion such as PR#14397.)

    • Names used by c(), unlist(), cbind() and rbind() are marked with
      an encoding when this can be ascertained.

    • R colours are now defined to refer to the sRGB color space.

      The PDF, PostScript, and Quartz graphics devices record this
      fact.  X11 (and Cairo) and Windows just assume that your screen
      conforms.

    • system.file() gains a mustWork argument (suggestion of Bill
      Dunlap).

    • new.env(hash = TRUE) is now the default.

    • list2env(envir = NULL) defaults to hashing (with a suitably sized
      environment) for lists of more than 100 elements.

    • text() gains a formula method.

    • IQR() now has a type argument which is passed to quantile().

    • as.vector(), as.double() etc duplicate less when they leave the
      mode unchanged but remove attributes.

      as.vector(mode = "any") no longer duplicates when it does not
      remove attributes.  This helps memory usage in matrix() and
      array().

      matrix() duplicates less if data is an atomic vector with
      attributes such as names (but no class).

      dim(x) <- NULL duplicates less if x has neither dimensions nor
      names (since this operation removes names and dimnames).

    • setRepositories() gains an addURLs argument.

    • chisq.test() now also returns a stdres component, for
      standardized residuals (which have unit variance, unlike the
      Pearson residuals).

    • write.table() and friends gain a fileEncoding argument, to
      simplify writing files for use on other OSes (e.g. a spreadsheet
      intended for Windows or Mac OS X Excel).

    • Assignment expressions of the form foo::bar(x) <- y and
      foo:::bar(x) <- y now work; the replacement functions used are
      foo::`bar<-` and foo:::`bar<-`.

    • Sys.getenv() gains a names argument so Sys.getenv(x, names =
      FALSE) can replace the common idiom of as.vector(Sys.getenv()).
      The default has been changed to not name a length-one result.

    • Lazy loading of environments now preserves attributes and locked
      status. (The locked status of bindings and active bindings are
      still not preserved; this may be addressed in the future).

    • options("install.lock") may be set to FALSE so that
      install.packages() defaults to --no-lock installs, or (on
      Windows) to TRUE so that binary installs implement locking.

    • sort(partial = p) for large p now tries Shellsort if quicksort is
      not appropriate and so works for non-numeric atomic vectors.

    • sapply() gets a new option simplify = "array" which returns a
      “higher rank” array instead of just a matrix when FUN() returns a
      dim() length of two or more.

      replicate() has this option set by default, and vapply() now
      behaves that way internally.

    • aperm() becomes S3 generic and gets a table method which
      preserves the class.

    • merge() and as.hclust() methods for objects of class "dendrogram"
      are now provided.

    • as.POSIXlt.factor() now passes ... to the character method
      (suggestion of Joshua Ulrich).

    • The character method of as.POSIXlt() now tries to find a format
      that works for all non-NA inputs, not just the first one.

    • str() now has a method for class "Date" analogous to that for
      class "POSIXt".

    • New function file.link() to create hard links on those file
      systems (POSIX, NTFS but not FAT) that support them.

    • New Summary() group method for class "ordered" implements min(),
      max() and range() for ordered factors.

    • mostattributes<-() now consults the "dim" attribute and not the
      dim() function, making it more useful for objects (such as data
      frames) from classes with methods for dim().  It also uses
      attr<-() in preference to the generics name<-(), dim<-() and
      dimnames<-().  (Related to PR#14469.)

    • There is a new option "browserNLdisabled" to disable the use of
      an empty (e.g. via the ‘Return’ key) as a synonym for c in
      browser() or n under debug().  (Wish of PR#14472.)

    • example() gains optional new arguments character.only and
      give.lines enabling programmatic exploration.

    • serialize() and unserialize() are no longer described as
      ‘experimental’.  The interface is now regarded as stable,
      although the serialization format may well change in future
      releases.  (serialize() has a new argument version which would
      allow the current format to be written if that happens.)

      New functions saveRDS() and readRDS() are public versions of the
      ‘internal’ functions .saveRDS() and .readRDS() made available for
      general use.  The dot-name versions remain available as several
      package authors have made use of them, despite the documentation.

      saveRDS() supports compress = "xz".

    • Many functions when called with a not-open connection will now
      ensure that the connection is left not-open in the event of
      error.  These include read.dcf(), dput(), dump(), load(),
      parse(), readBin(), readChar(), readLines(), save(), writeBin(),
      writeChar(), writeLines(), .readRDS(), .saveRDS() and
      tools::parse_Rd(), as well as functions calling these.

    • Public functions find.package() and path.package() replace the
      internal dot-name versions.

    • The default method for terms() now looks for a "terms" attribute
      if it does not find a "terms" component, and so works for model
      frames.

    • httpd() handlers receive an additional argument containing the
      full request headers as a raw vector (this can be used to parse
      cookies, multi-part forms etc.). The recommended full signature
      for handlers is therefore function(url, query, body, headers,
      ...).

    • file.edit() gains a fileEncoding argument to specify the encoding
      of the file(s).

    • The format of the HTML package listings has changed.  If there is
      more than one library tree , a table of links to libraries is
      provided at the top and bottom of the page.  Where a library
      contains more than 100 packages, an alphabetic index is given at
      the top of the section for that library.  (As a consequence,
      package names are now sorted case-insensitively whatever the
      locale.)

    • isSeekable() now returns FALSE on connections which have
      non-default encoding.  Although documented to record if ‘in
      principle’ the connection supports seeking, it seems safer to
      report FALSE when it may not work.

    • R CMD REMOVE and remove.packages() now remove file R.css when
      removing all remaining packages in a library tree.  (Related to
      the wish of PR#14475: note that this file is no longer
      installed.)

    • unzip() now has a unzip argument like zip.file.extract().  This
      allows an external unzip program to be used, which can be useful
      to access features supported by Info-ZIP's unzip version 6 which
      is now becoming more widely available.

    • There is a simple zip() function, as wrapper for an external zip
      command.

    • bzfile() connections can now read from concatenated bzip2 files
      (including files written with bzfile(open = "a")) and files
      created by some other compressors (such as the example of
      PR#14479).

    • The primitive function c() is now of type BUILTIN.

    • plot(<dendrogram>, .., nodePar=*) now obeys an optional xpd
      specification (allowing clipping to be turned off completely).

    • nls(algorithm="port") now shares more code with nlminb(), and is
      more consistent with the other nls() algorithms in its return
      value.

    • xz has been updated to 5.0.1 (very minor bugfix release).

    • image() has gained a logical useRaster argument allowing it to
      use a bitmap raster for plotting a regular grid instead of
      polygons. This can be more efficient, but may not be supported by
      all devices. The default is FALSE.

    • list.files()/dir() gains a new argument include.dirs() to include
      directories in the listing when recursive = TRUE.

    • New function list.dirs() lists all directories, (even empty
      ones).

    • file.copy() now (by default) copies read/write/execute
      permissions on files, moderated by the current setting of
      Sys.umask().

    • Sys.umask() now accepts mode = NA and returns the current umask
      value (visibly) without changing it.

    • There is a ! method for classes "octmode" and "hexmode": this
      allows xor(a, b) to work if both a and b are from one of those
      classes.

    • as.raster() no longer fails for vectors or matrices containing
      NAs.

    • New hook "before.new.plot" allows functions to be run just before
      advancing the frame in plot.new, which is potentially useful for
      custom figure layout implementations.

    • Package tools has a new function compactPDF() to try to reduce
      the size of PDF files _via_ qpdf or gs.

    • tar() has a new argument extra_flags.

    • dotchart() accepts more general objects x such as 1D tables which
      can be coerced by as.numeric() to a numeric vector, with a
      warning since that might not be appropriate.

    • The previously internal function create.post() is now exported
      from utils, and the documentation for bug.report() and
      help.request() now refer to that for create.post().

      It has a new method = "mailto" on Unix-alikes similar to that on
      Windows: it invokes a default mailer via open (Mac OS X) or
      xdg-open or the default browser (elsewhere).

      The default for ccaddress is now getOption("ccaddress") which is
      by default unset: using the username as a mailing address
      nowadays rarely works as expected.

    • The default for options("mailer") is now "mailto" on all
      platforms.

    • unlink() now does tilde-expansion (like most other file
      functions).

    • file.rename() now allows vector arguments (of the same length).

    • The "glm" method for logLik() now returns an "nobs" attribute
      (which stats4::BIC() assumed it did).

      The "nls" method for logLik() gave incorrect results for zero
      weights.

    • There is a new generic function nobs() in package stats, to
      extract from model objects a suitable value for use in BIC
      calculations.  An S4 generic derived from it is defined in
      package stats4.

    • Code for S4 reference-class methods is now examined for possible
      errors in non-local assignments.

    • findClasses, getGeneric, findMethods and hasMethods are revised
      to deal consistently with the package= argument and be consistent
      with soft namespace policy for finding objects.

    • tools::Rdiff() now has the option to return not only the status
      but a character vector of observed differences (which are still
      by default sent to stdout).

    • The startup environment variables R_ENVIRON_USER, R_ENVIRON,
      R_PROFILE_USER and R_PROFILE are now treated more consistently.
      In all cases an empty value is considered to be set and will stop
      the default being used, and for the last two tilde expansion is
      performed on the file name.  (Note that setting an empty value is
      probably impossible on Windows.)

    • Using R --no-environ CMD, R --no-site-file CMD or R
      --no-init-file CMD sets environment variables so these settings
      are passed on to child R processes, notably those run by INSTALL,
      check and build. R --vanilla CMD sets these three options (but
      not --no-restore).

    • smooth.spline() is somewhat faster.  With cv=NA it allows some
      leverage computations to be skipped,

    • The internal (C) function scientific(), at the heart of R's
      format.info(x), format(x), print(x), etc, for numeric x, has been
      re-written in order to provide slightly more correct results,
      fixing PR#14491, notably in border cases including when digits >=
      16, thanks to substantial contributions (code and experiments)
      from Petr Savicky.  This affects a noticable amount of numeric
      output from R.

    • A new function grepRaw() has been introduced for finding subsets
      of raw vectors. It supports both literal searches and regular
      expressions.

    • Package compiler is now provided as a standard package.  See
      ?compiler::compile for information on how to use the compiler.
      This package implements a byte code compiler for R: by default
      the compiler is not used in this release.  See the ‘R
      Installation and Administration Manual’ for how to compile the
      base and recommended packages.

    • Providing an exportPattern directive in a NAMESPACE file now
      causes classes to be exported according to the same pattern, for
      example the default from package.skeleton() to specify all names
      starting with a letter.  An explicit directive to
      exportClassPattern will still over-ride.

    • There is an additional marked encoding "bytes" for character
      strings.  This is intended to be used for non-ASCII strings which
      should be treated as a set of bytes, and never re-encoded as if
      they were in the encoding of the currrent locale: useBytes = TRUE
      is autmatically selected in functions such as writeBin(),
      writeLines(), grep() and strsplit().

      Only a few character operations are supported (such as substr()).

      Printing, format() and cat() will represent non-ASCII bytes in
      such strings by a \xab escape.

    • The new function removeSource() removes the internally stored
      source from a function.

    • "srcref" attributes now include two additional line number
      values, recording the line numbers in the order they were parsed.

    • New functions have been added for source reference access:
      getSrcFilename(), getSrcDirectory(), getSrcLocation() and
      getSrcref().

    • Sys.chmod() has an extra argument use_umask which defaults to
      true and restricts the file mode by the current setting of umask.
      This means that all the R functions which manipulate
      file/directory permissions by default respect umask, notably R
      CMD INSTALL.

    • tempfile() has an extra argument fileext to create a temporary
      filename with a specified extension.  (Suggestion and initial
      implementation by Dirk Eddelbuettel.)

      There are improvements in the way Sweave() and Stangle() handle
      non-ASCII vignette sources, especially in a UTF-8 locale: see
      ‘Writing R Extensions’ which now has a subsection on this topic.

    • factanal() now returns the rotation matrix if a rotation such as
      "promax" is used, and hence factor correlations are displayed.
      (Wish of PR#12754.)

    • The gctorture2() function provides a more refined interface to
      the GC torture process.  Environment variables R_GCTORTURE,
      R_GCTORTURE_WAIT, and R_GCTORTURE_INHIBIT_RELEASE can also be
      used to control the GC torture process.

    • file.copy(from, to) no longer regards it as an error to supply a
      zero-length from: it now simply does nothing.

    • rstandard.glm gains a type argument which can be used to request
      standardized Pearson residuals.

    • A start on a Turkish translation, thanks to Murat Alkan.

    • .libPaths() calls normalizePath(winslash = "/") on the paths:
      this helps (usually) present them in a user-friendly form and
      should detect duplicate paths accessed via different symbolic
      links.

  SWEAVE CHANGES:

    • Sweave() has options to produce PNG and JPEG figures, and to use
      a custom function to open a graphics device (see ?RweaveLatex).
      (Based in part on the contribution of PR#14418.)

    • The default for Sweave() is to produce only PDF figures (rather
      than both EPS and PDF).

    • Environment variable SWEAVE_OPTIONS can be used to supply
      defaults for existing or new options to be applied after the
      Sweave driver setup has been run.

    • The Sweave manual is now included as a vignette in the utils
      package.

    • Sweave() handles keep.source=TRUE much better: it could duplicate
      some lines and omit comments. (Reported by John Maindonald and
      others.)

  C-LEVEL FACILITIES:

    • Because they use a C99 interface which a C++ compiler is not
      required to support, Rvprintf and REvprintf are only defined by
      R_ext/Print.h in C++ code if the macro R_USE_C99_IN_CXX is
      defined when it is included.

    • pythag duplicated the C99 function hypot.  It is no longer
      provided, but is used as a substitute for hypot in the very
      unlikely event that the latter is not available.

    • R_inspect(obj) and R_inspect3(obj, deep, pvec) are (hidden)
      C-level entry points to the internal inspect function and can be
      used for C-level debugging (e.g., in conjunction with the p
      command in gdb).

    • Compiling R with --enable-strict-barrier now also enables
      additional checking for use of unprotected objects. In
      combination with gctorture() or gctorture2() and a C-level
      debugger this can be useful for tracking down memory protection
      issues.

  UTILITIES:

    • R CMD Rdiff is now implemented in R on Unix-alikes (as it has
      been on Windows since R 2.12.0).

    • R CMD build no longer does any cleaning in the supplied package
      directory: all the cleaning is done in the copy.

      It has a new option --install-args to pass arguments to R CMD
      INSTALL for --build (but not when installing to rebuild
      vignettes).

      There is new option, --resave-data, to call
      tools::resaveRdaFiles() on the data directory, to compress
      tabular files (.tab, .csv etc) and to convert .R files to .rda
      files.  The default, --resave-data=gzip, is to do so in a way
      compatible even with years-old versions of R, but better
      compression is given by --resave-data=best, requiring R >=
      2.10.0.

      It now adds a datalist file for data directories of more than
      1Mb.

      Patterns in .Rbuildignore are now also matched against all
      directory names (including those of empty directories).

      There is a new option, --compact-vignettes, to try reducing the
      size of PDF files in the inst/doc directory.  Currently this
      tries qpdf: other options may be used in future.

      When re-building vignettes and a inst/doc/Makefile file is found,
      make clean is run if the makefile has a clean: target.

      After re-building vignettes the default clean-up operation will
      remove any directories (and not just files) created during the
      process: e.g. one package created a .R_cache directory.

      Empty directories are now removed unless the option
      --keep-empty-dirs is given (and a few packages do deliberately
      include empty directories).

      If there is a field BuildVignettes in the package DESCRIPTION
      file with a false value, re-building the vignettes is skipped.

    • R CMD check now also checks for filenames that are
      case-insensitive matches to Windows' reserved file names with
      extensions, such as nul.Rd, as these have caused problems on some
      Windows systems.

      It checks for inefficiently saved data/*.rda and data/*.RData
      files, and reports on those large than 100Kb.  A more complete
      check (including of the type of compression, but potentially much
      slower) can be switched on by setting environment variable
      _R_CHECK_COMPACT_DATA2_ to TRUE.

      The types of files in the data directory are now checked, as
      packages are _still_ misusing it for non-R data files.

      It now extracts and runs the R code for each vignette in a
      separate directory and R process: this is done in the package's
      declared encoding.  Rather than call tools::checkVignettes(), it
      calls tool::buildVignettes() to see if the vignettes can be
      re-built as they would be by R CMD build.  Option --use-valgrind
      now applies only to these runs, and not when running code to
      rebuild the vignettes.  This version does a much better job of
      suppressing output from successful vignette tests.

      The 00check.log file is a more complete record of what is output
      to stdout: in particular contains more details of the tests.

      It now check all syntactically valid Rd usage entries, and warns
      about assignments (unless these give the usage of replacement
      functions).

      .tar.xz compressed tarballs are now allowed, if tar supports them
      (and setting environment variable TAR to internal ensures so on
      all platforms).

    • R CMD check now warns if it finds inst/doc/makefile, and R CMD
      build renames such a file to inst/doc/Makefile.

  INSTALLATION:

    • Installing R no longer tries to find perl, and R CMD no longer
      tries to substitute a full path for awk nor perl - this was a
      legacy from the days when they were used by R itself.  Because a
      couple of packages do use awk, it is set as the make (rather than
      environment) variable AWK.

    • make check will now fail if there are differences from the
      reference output when testing package examples and if environment
      variable R_STRICT_PACKAGE_CHECK is set to a true value.

    • The C99 double complex type is now required.

      The C99 complex trigonometric functions (such as csin) are not
      currently required (FreeBSD lacks most of them): substitutes are
      used if they are missing.

    • The C99 system call va_copy is now required.

    • If environment variable R_LD_LIBRARY_PATH is set during
      configuration (for example in config.site) it is used unchanged
      in file etc/ldpaths rather than being appended to.

    • configure looks for support for OpenMP and if found compiles R
      with appropriate flags and also makes them available for use in
      packages: see ‘Writing R Extensions’.

      This is currently experimental, and is only used in R with a
      single thread for colSums() and colMeans().  Expect it to be more
      widely used in later versions of R.

      This can be disabled by the --disable-openmp flag.

  PACKAGE INSTALLATION:

    • R CMD INSTALL --clean now removes copies of a src directory which
      are created when multiple sub-architectures are in use.
      (Following a comment from Berwin Turlach.)

    • File R.css is now installed on a per-package basis (in the
      package's html directory) rather than in each library tree, and
      this is used for all the HTML pages in the package.  This helps
      when installing packages with static HTML pages for use on a
      webserver.  It will also allow future versions of R to use
      different stylesheets for the packages they install.

    • A top-level file .Rinstignore in the package sources can list (in
      the same way as .Rbuildignore) files under inst that should not
      be installed.  (Why should there be any such files?  Because all
      the files needed to re-build vignettes need to be under inst/doc,
      but they may not need to be installed.)

    • R CMD INSTALL has a new option --compact-docs to compact any PDFs
      under the inst/doc directory.  Currently this uses qpdf, which
      must be installed (see ‘Writing R Extensions’).

    • There is a new option --lock which can be used to cancel the
      effect of --no-lock or --pkglock earlier on the command line.

    • Option --pkglock can now be used with more than one package, and
      is now the default if only one package is specified.

    • Argument lock of install.packages() can now be use for Mac binary
      installs as well as for Windows ones.  The value "pkglock" is now
      accepted, as well as TRUE and FALSE (the default).

    • There is a new option --no-clean-on-error for R CMD INSTALL to
      retain a partially installed package for forensic analysis.

    • Packages with names ending in . are not portable since Windows
      does not work correctly with such directory names.  This is now
      warned about in R CMD check, and will not be allowed in R 2.14.x.

    • The vignette indices are more comprehensive (in the style of
      browseVignetttes()).

  DEPRECATED & DEFUNCT:

    • require(save = TRUE) is defunct, and use of the save argument is
      deprecated.

    • R CMD check --no-latex is defunct: use --no-manual instead.

    • R CMD Sd2Rd is defunct.

    • The gamma argument to hsv(), rainbow(), and rgb2hsv() is
      deprecated and no longer has any effect.

    • The previous options for R CMD build --binary (--auto-zip,
      --use-zip-data and --no-docs) are deprecated (or defunct): use
      the new option --install-args instead.

    • When a character value is used for the EXPR argument in switch(),
      only a single unnamed alternative value is now allowed.

    • The wrapper utils::link.html.help() is no longer available.

    • Zip-ing data sets in packages (and hence R CMD INSTALL options
      --use-zip-data and --auto-zip, as well as the ZipData: yes field
      in a DESCRIPTION file) is defunct.

      Installed packages with zip-ed data sets can still be used, but a
      warning that they should be re-installed will be given.

    • The ‘experimental’ alternative specification of a name space via
      .Export() etc is now defunct.

    • The option --unsafe to R CMD INSTALL is deprecated: use the
      identical option --no-lock instead.

    • The entry point pythag in Rmath.h is deprecated in favour of the
      C99 function hypot.  A wrapper for hypot is provided for R 2.13.x
      only.

    • Direct access to the "source" attribute of functions is
      deprecated; use deparse(fn, control="useSource") to access it,
      and removeSource(fn) to remove it.

    • R CMD build --binary is now formally deprecated: R CMD INSTALL
      --build has long been the preferred alternative.

    • Single-character package names are deprecated (and R is already
      disallowed to avoid confusion in Depends: fields).

  BUG FIXES:

    • drop.terms and the [ method for class "terms" no longer add back
      an intercept.  (Reported by Niels Hansen.)

    • aggregate preserves the class of a column (e.g. a date) under
      some circumstances where it discarded the class previously.

    • p.adjust() now always returns a vector result, as documented.  In
      previous versions it copied attributes (such as dimensions) from
      the p argument: now it only copies names.

    • On PDF and PostScript devices, a line width of zero was recorded
      verbatim and this caused problems for some viewers (a very thin
      line combined with a non-solid line dash pattern could also cause
      a problem).  On these devices, the line width is now limited at
      0.01 and for very thin lines with complex dash patterns the
      device may force the line dash pattern to be solid.  (Reported by
      Jari Oksanen.)

    • The str() method for class "POSIXt" now gives sensible output for
      0-length input.

    • The one- and two-argument complex maths functions failed to warn
      if NAs were generated (as their numeric analogues do).

    • Added .requireCachedGenerics to the dont.mind list for library()
      to avoid warnings about duplicates.

    • $<-.data.frame messed with the class attribute, breaking any S4
      subclass.  The S4 data.frame class now has its own $<- method,
      and turns dispatch on for this primitive.

    • Map() did not look up a character argument f in the correct
      frame, thanks to lazy evaluation.  (PR#14495)

    • file.copy() did not tilde-expand from and to when to was a
      directory.  (PR#14507)

    • It was possible (but very rare) for the loading test in R CMD
      INSTALL to crash a child R process and so leave around a lock
      directory and a partially installed package.  That test is now
      done in a separate process.

    • plot(<formula>, data=<matrix>,..) now works in more cases;
      similarly for points(), lines() and text().

    • edit.default() contained a manual dispatch for matrices (the
      "matrix" class didn't really exist when it was written).  This
      caused an infinite recursion in the no-GUI case and has now been
      removed.

    • data.frame(check.rows = TRUE) sometimes worked when it should
      have detected an error.  (PR#14530)

    • scan(sep= , strip.white=TRUE) sometimes stripped trailing spaces
      from within quoted strings.  (The real bug in PR#14522.)

    • The rank-correlation methods for cor() and cov() with use =
      "complete.obs" computed the ranks before removing missing values,
      whereas the documentation implied incomplete cases were removed
      first.  (PR#14488)

      They also failed for 1-row matrices.

    • The perpendicular adjustment used in placing text and expressions
      in the margins of plots was not scaled by par("mex"). (Part of
      PR#14532.)

    • Quartz Cocoa device now catches any Cocoa exceptions that occur
      during the creation of the device window to prevent crashes.  It
      also imposes a limit of 144 ft^2 on the area used by a window to
      catch user errors (unit misinterpretation) early.

    • The browser (invoked by debug(), browser() or otherwise) would
      display attributes such as "wholeSrcref" that were intended for
      internal use only.

    • R's internal filename completion now properly handles filenames
      with spaces in them even when the readline library is used.  This
      resolves PR#14452 provided the internal filename completion is
      used (e.g., by setting rc.settings(files = TRUE)).

    • Inside uniroot(f, ...), -Inf function values are now replaced by
      a maximally *negative* value.

    • rowsum() could silently over/underflow on integer inputs
      (reported by Bill Dunlap).

    • as.matrix() did not handle "dist" objects with zero rows.

CHANGES IN R VERSION 2.12.2 patched:

  NEW FEATURES:

    • max() and min() work harder to ensure that NA has precedence over
      NaN, so e.g. min(NaN, NA) is NA.  (This was not previously
      documented except for within a single numeric vector, where
      compiler optimizations often defeated the code.)

  BUG FIXES:

    • A change to the C function R_tryEval had broken error messages in
      S4 method selection; the error message is now printed.

    • PDF output with a non-RGB color model used RGB for the line
      stroke color.  (PR#14511)

    • stats4::BIC() assumed without checking that an object of class
      "logLik" has an "nobs" attribute: glm() fits did not and so BIC()
      failed for them.

    • In some circumstances a one-sided mantelhaen.test() reported the
      p-value for the wrong tail.  (PR#14514)

    • Passing the invalid value lty = NULL to axis() sent an invalid
      value to the graphics device, and might cause the device to
      segfault.

    • Sweave() with concordance=TRUE could lead to invalid PDF files;
      Sweave.sty has been updated to avoid this.

    • Non-ASCII characters in the titles of help pages were not
      rendered properly in some locales, and could cause errors or
      warnings.    • checkRd() gave a spurious error if the \href macro was used.

 

 

Protected: Using SAS and C/C++ together

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WPS Version 2.5.1 Released – can still run SAS language/data and R

However this is what Phil Rack the reseller is quoting on http://www.minequest.com/Pricing.html

Windows Desktop Price: $884 on 32-bit Windows and $1,149 on 64-bit Windows.

The Bridge to R is available on the Windows platforms and is available for free to customers who
license WPS through MineQuest,LLC. Companies and organizations outside of North America
may purchase a license for the Bridge to R which starts at $199 per desktop or $599 per server

Windows Server Price: $1,903 per logical CPU for 32-bit and $2,474 for 64-bit.

Note that Linux server versions are available but do not yet support the Eclipse IDE and are
command line only

WPS sure seems going well-but their pricing is no longer fixed and on the home website, you gotta fill a form. Ditt0 for the 30 day free evaluation

http://www.teamwpc.co.uk/products/wps/modules/core

Data File Formats

The table below provides a summary of data formats presently supported by the WPS Core module.

Data File Format Un-Compressed
Data
Compressed
Data
Read Write Read Write
SD2 (SAS version 6 data set)
SAS7BDAT (SAS version 7 data set)
SAS7BDAT (SAS version 8 data set)
SAS7BDAT (SAS version 9 data set)
SASSEQ (SAS version 8/9 sequential file)
V8SEQ (SAS version 8 sequential file)
V9SEQ (SAS version 9 sequential file)
WPD (WPS native data set)
WPDSEQ (WPS native sequential file)
XPORT (transport format)

Additional access to EXCEL, SPSS and dBASE files is supported by utilising the WPS Engine for DB Filesmodule.

and they have a new product release on Valentine Day 2011 (oh these Europeans!)

From the press release at http://www.teamwpc.co.uk/press/wps2_5_1_released

WPS Version 2.5.1 Released 

New language support, new data engines, larger datasets, improved scalability

LONDON, UK – 14 February 2011 – World Programming today released version 2.5.1 of their WPS software for workstations, servers and mainframes.

WPS is a competitively priced, high performance, highly scalable data processing and analytics software product that allows users to execute programs written in the language of SAS. WPS is supported on a wide variety of hardware and operating system platforms and can connect to and work with many types of data with ease. The WPS user interface (Workbench) is frequently praised for its ease of use and flexibility, with the option to include numerous third-party extensions.

This latest version of the software has the ability to manipulate even greater volumes of data, removing the previous 2^31 (2 billion) limit on number of observations.

Complimenting extended data processing capabilities, World Programming has worked hard to boost the performance, scalability and reliability of the WPS software to give users the confidence they need to run heavy workloads whilst delivering maximum value from available computer power.

WPS version 2.5.1 offers additional flexibility with the release of two new data engines for accessing Greenplum and SAND databases. WPS now comes with eleven data engines and can access a huge range of commonly used and industry-standard file-formats and databases.

Support in WPS for the language of SAS continues to expand with more statistical procedures, data step functions, graphing controls and many other language items and options.

WPS version 2.5.1 is available as a free upgrade to all licensed users of WPS.

Summary of Main New Features:

  • Supporting Even Larger Datasets
    WPS is now able to process very large data sets by lifting completely the previous size limit of 2^31 observations.
  • Performance and Scalability Boosted
    Performance and scalability improvements across the board combine to ensure even the most demanding large and concurrent workloads are processed efficiently and reliably.
  • More Language Support
    WPS 2.5.1 continues the expansion of it’s language support with over 70 new language items, including new Procedures, Data Step functions and many other language items and options.
  • Statistical Analysis
    The procedure support in WPS Statistics has been expanded to include PROC CLUSTER and PROC TREE.
  • Graphical Output
    The graphical output from WPS Graphing has been expanded to accommodate more configurable graphics.
  • Hash Tables
    Support is now provided for hash tables.
  • Greenplum®
    A new WPS Engine for Greenplum provides dedicated support for accessing the Greenplum database.
  • SAND®
    A new WPS Engine for SAND provides dedicated support for accessing the SAND database.
  • Oracle®
    Bulk loading support now available in the WPS Engine for Oracle.
  • SQL Server®
    To enhance existing SQL Server database access, a new SQLSERVR (please note spelling) facility in the ODBC engine.

More Information:

Existing Users should visit www.teamwpc.co.uk/support/wps/release where you can download a readme file containing more information about all the new features and fixes in WPS 2.5.1.

New Users should visit www.teamwpc.co.uk/products/wps where you can explore in more detail all the features available in WPS or request a free evaluation.

and from http://www.teamwpc.co.uk/products/wps/data it seems they are going on the BIG DATA submarine as well-

Data Support 

Extremely Large Data Size Handling

WPS is now able to handle extremely large data sets now that the previous limit of 2^31 observations has been lifted.

Access Standard Databases

Use I/O Features in WPS Core

  • CLIPBOARD (Windows only)
  • DDE (Windows only)
  • EMAIL (via SMTP or MAPI)
  • FTP
  • HTTP
  • PIPE (Windows and UNIX only)
  • SOCKET
  • STDIO
  • URL

Use Standard Data File Formats

QGIS and R

Logo graphic for the Quantum GIS free software...
Image via Wikipedia

Qgis is Quantum GIS http://www.qgis.org/

Quantum GIS (QGIS) is a user friendly Open Source Geographic Information System (GIS) licensed under the GNU General Public License. QGIS is an official project of the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo). It runs on Linux, Unix, MacOSX, and Windows and supportsnumerous vector, raster, and database formats and functionalities.

Learn more about QGIS

Quantum GIS provides a continously growing number of capabilities provided by core functions and plugins. You can visualize, manage, edit, analyse data, and compose printable maps

Also you can use both Qgis and R through Python (!!!)

http://www.qgis.org/wiki/HomeRange_plugin#Home-range_analyses_in_QGIS_using_R_through_Python

Interesting app for webs (sometimes better suited than some R map packages)

https://plugins.qgis.org/plugins/HomeRange_plugin/

Based on a Google Summer of Code _

 Also

https://sites.google.com/site/eospansite/introqgis_r

and

HomeRange_plugin

http://hub.qgis.org/projects/quantum-gis/wiki/HomeRange_plugin

 

Also read-

http://blog.qgis.org/node/51

Related Articles-

R Graphs Resources

https://rforanalytics.wordpress.com/r-graphs-resources/

Using R from other Software

https://rforanalytics.wordpress.com/using-r-from-other-software/

and

Visualize NHL Play-by-Play using Tableau Public and R

http://brocktibert.wordpress.com/2011/02/13/visualize-nhl-play-by-play-using-tableau-public-and-r/