From economic and political forecasting to picking the next super bowl winner, data analysis continues to help make sense of the world around us.
Among data scientists, data analysis software R, a powerful programming language that is both free and open source, continues to gain popularity for its ease of use and seemingly endless applications.
Since the software’s original release in 2000, R has continued to gain popularity. In 2009, a New York Time’s article highlighted the software’s popularity among companies like Google, Pfizer, Merck, Bank of America and Shell. Today, estimates suggest that over a quarter of a million people use R regularly and it’s one of the highest paid skill sets for employees.
The growth of R has also been evident in Dallas/Fort Worth. In 2010, the University of Dallas began hosting meetings for R users, called the Dallas R Users Group. The group, which originally started with just a few members, has grown to over 1,700 members on their online community.
David Andrews, Ph.D., Associate Dean of Constantin College of Liberal Arts at the University of Dallas recalls the first days of the group. “I’ve been an active member of the group since I first offered to host it on UD’s campus about seven years ago. We used to have meetups in the Math Lab — 8 or 10 of us on a good day — and we’ve now grown to where we’ll get up to 60 or 70 attendees at a single meeting.”
It’s no wonder that R is growing so rapidly: it’s free, open-source, easy to use, provides powerful computations and has numerous uses that are sure to appeal to anyone:
The New York Times published a famous dialect quiz using R software. Answer a few questions and let the computational power guess (with unbelievable accuracy) where you’re from.
The Dallas R Users Group gave a presentation this summer on using R to predict football games. See how your team will do this year.
Real-estate website Trulia is using data to arm potential homebuyers with more information about their prospective neighborhoods.
An intern at Facebook used R to graph friendships across the world and the result was beautiful:
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