Conference on Statistical Practice 2015 - Day 1

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The first day started off with a great lecture on basic software engineering principles that all Statisticians should know. Paul Teetor, gave the talk "What Can We Learn from Software Engineers?". He covered some basic but very important principles including:

  • Coding Standards
  • Defensive Programming
  • Version Control
  • Unit Testing

I appreciated him introducing me to the difference between "programming in the small and programming in the large". Often I find myself writing code "in the small" and in hindsight, that is not great. Paul walked our group through building a basic R package and putting it under version control in less than 20 minutes! So far, this has been my favorite session. The only other thing that is worth mentioning was a conversation that I had with a representative from Wolfram Alpha. This gentleman was explaining the features of their products and how great their software is. I was listening to his pitch when he caught me off guard with an odd statistic about how many lines of code their software had. It went something like this:

Sales_Rep : We have more code than the human genome!

Me: You guys should really write more efficient code

He quickly explained that their code is efficient, but I had to leave shortly after that to avoid laughing out loud. We ended the first day with a poster session and some socializing. Overall, it was a good first day.

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