Your verification ID is: guDlT7MCuIOFFHSbB3jPFN5QLaQ Big Computing: December 2014

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

R for Everyone by Jared Lander

This last week I have been re-reading R for Everyone by Jared Lander. I got a copy from Jared when the book first came out. It fills a need in the R community to supply help in getting new R users up to speed quickly so they can start doing work as soon as possible. 

Historically the learning curve for R has been a real impediment to developing new users. R has a steep learning curve because R exists in an environment between statistical programming and computer programming. This makes it a little out of the comfort zone for the typical types of people who use it. 

Lately that has begun to change. The introduction of RStudio to the R world has made the use R so much easier to deal with by automating all the support tasks needed to productively use R. Gone are the days of using a mashup of text editors, command lines, bash programming and multiple open windows to do an R project. Now it is all clean and organized through Rstudio so all the R user has to worry about is the Data and programming in R. 

Coursera has done a good job of bring up completely new users to R with their Data Science Specialization. If you are starting from ground zero it is the way to go. It will get you started in a solid and robust way. The only issue is that Coursera is nine one month classes. If you have some experience in this area nine months is too long to get up to speed, and may be painful review rather than true learning.

The solution is Jared's book. If you have had some basic programming or some statistical background you can start doing real work right after reading this book. This is a week at most not nine months. No Jared book does not cover all the things a user would do in R, but it covers the 20% of R that users do 99% of the time. There is no exotic or special here. It is just that basics to get rolling, and that is what new users need.

So if you have not done much work in R, and want to get off to a quick start with some solid basics I would strongly recommend R for Everyone.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Best New Board Game

I do not usually blog about board games, but game and game theory are an important part of data science. In fact, I would say that that a good game player makes a good data scientist.

Recently a blog called BoardGameGeek posted a article about a game called Nika. Nika is a game out of a new generation of game designers that return board games to a simpler environment. Gone are the stacks of cards and piles of dice and other members of the entourage of pieces that came with a board game of my generation. However, do not let the simplicity of design fool you into believing this is an easy game easily mastered. Nika is as complex and challenging game as the players wish to make it. The game is also an 2013 Ion Award winner for best strategy game.

The game itself was thought up by designer Josh Raab. Josh is currently a Masters student studying game design at NYU. He designed the game and originally put it on Kickstarter where it was easily funded. You can buy the game from the eaglegames website.

I hope you enjoy the game and the time away from the computer. If you want to know more about the game designer here is a link to his blog.