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David Smith

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Top Stories by David Smith

R is a very powerful language for creating custom data visualizations, but during the development process sometimes you make a mistake and things go horribly wrong. But sometime serendipity intervenes, and the (unintended) result can be quite beautiful. Accidental aRt, if you will. Curated by Kara Woo and Erika Mudrak, this fantastic Tumblr captures beautiful but unintended examples from R and other data visualization tools. Here are a couple of recent favourites (click for the originals): A scatterplot with the point size set too big An attempt at plotting the locations of harbour seals I could definitely see some of these hanging on my wall. (Hmm ... I have an idea for this impressive-looking gadget.) Check out the full gallery at the link below. Tumblr: Accidental aRt ... (more)

Agent Based Models and RNetLogo

by Joseph Rickert If I had to pick just one application to be the “killer app” for the digital computer I would probably choose Agent Based Modeling (ABM). Imagine creating a world populated with hundreds, or even thousands of agents, interacting with each other and with the environment according to their own simple rules. What kinds of patterns and behaviors would emerge if you just let the simulation run? Could you guess a set of rules that would mimic some part of the real world? This dream is probably much older than the digital computer, but according to Jan Thiele’s brief a... (more)

Because it's Friday: Word Crimes

This blog has its fair share of typos and homophones, I know. There's always room for more proofreading. (And don't get me started on the inconsistent use of "favorite" and "favourite" — my spelling locus is drifting somewhere in the mid-Pacific these days.) But I am a bit of a grammar nerd, so I appreciate Weird Al Yankovic's attempt to get the social media set to use words proper-like (and also get off my lawn!).   Any song that uses "conjugate" in the grammatical sense gets my endorsement. (And although I've spent more time than usual proofreading this post, points to the firs... (more)

Fast Company explains why R is good for business

In a new article for FastCoLabs, journalist Tina Amirtha has published a follow-up article to last month's piece on R's impact on open science. In her latest article, the focus is on how R is used at companies and displacing legacy statistics software like SAS: SAS is no match for the open-source language that pioneering data scientists use in academia, which is simply known as R. Tina interviews R users from companies Facebook and DataSong (as well as me and data scientist Casey Herron from Revolution Analytics) and discovers some cool applications of how R is used: Facebook, fo... (more)

Revisiting package dependencies

by Andrie de Vries In my previous post I wrote about how to identify and visualize package dependencies.  Within hours, Duncan Murdoch (member of R-core) identified some discrepancies between my list of dependencies and the visualisation.  Since then, I fixed the dispecrancies. In this blog post I attempt to clarify the issues involved in listing package dependencies. In miniCRAN I expose two functions that provides information about dependencies: The function pkgDep() returns a character vector with the names of dependencies. Internally, pkgDep() is a wrapper around tools::pac... (more)