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Do you know R? and other silly questions

2019-01-17

I recently had a conversation where I was asked if I knew ‘R.’ I thought it was a silly question. The application R is a great resource for statistics. The algorithms are solid because there is a passionate user community that wants to create a good resource. The price is right, free, which makes it easy to get hold of if you want to perform analysis. Lastly, because there is a passionate user community and many users, if you are looking for and example or need a point in the right direction, you have just the people you want on line, usually offering something constructive.

The guy I was talking to seemed to have come from a few meetings with a large consulting firm. The message he got was that this sort of analysis is for ‘grown ups’ and anyone who says they can do the work is lying because it’s way too difficult for anyone but the ‘grown ups.’ Now I was a stock broker, financial planner, earlier in my life. Securities were, and to an extent still are, described in ways that are meant to intimidate investors so that they will look for professional help. The securities were simple enough to understand when you used plain English. I thought that if my clients were well educated, they would understand what their investments were doing and they could ask me for services they knew I could provide. It made for a good relationship. I think Data Science consultants are behaving a bit like the investment firms in order to help clients navigate the complexities of Data Science.

SIDE BAR: I’ve done the ‘hello world’ of R projects, the Iris identification project. Right now, I’m looking for a product from the Linear Discriminant Analysis (LDA) linear algorithm, try to bring that up in friendly conversation, to see if I get a regression formula that I could put into code. Like I said, I’m just beginning to learning it as of Feb 20, 2019. That’s less than a week at the time I’m writing this.

I plan to put up the notes I’ve compiled for Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, example applications, etc. to take what is presented as complicated and intimidating and break it into chunks anyone might be able look at and say ‘OK, I get that.’ That’s what I do, for fun (my family thinks it’s weird). I read tons of stuff and turn it into a coherent thought, or collection of thoughts. That’s what I did for my students back when I was a professor (another period in my life). So I hope to put up something that is helpful, if only to get some external confirmation that I do, in fact, know what I’m talking about.

Oh getting back to the silly question. A better question might have been, ‘Can you tell me how you have used R?’

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