Data scientists and R enthusiasts gathered for the 5th annual New York R Conference held on May 9th-11th. In front of a crowd of more than 300 attendees, 24 speakers gave presentations on topics ranging from deep learning and building packages in R to football and hockey analytics.

Speakers included: Andrew Gelman, Emily Robinson, Max Kuhn, Dan Chen, Jared Lander, Namita Nandakumar, Mike Band, Soumya Kalra, Brooke Watson, David Madigan, Jacqueline Nolis, Heather Nolis, Gabriela Hempfling, Wes McKinney, Noam Ross, Jim Savage, Ludmila Janda, Emily Dodwell, Michelle Gill, Krista Watts, Elizabeth Sweeney, Adam Chekroud, Amanda Dobbyn and Letisha Smith.

This year marked the ten-year anniversary of the New York Open Statistical Programming Meetup. It has been incredible to see the growth of meetup over the years. We now have over 10,000 members around the world!

Members Over Time

Let’s take a look at some of the highlights from the conference:

Jonah Gabry Kicked Off “R” Week at the New York Open Statistical Programming Meetup with a Talk on Using Stan in R

Jonah Gabry kicking off R Week with a talk about the Stan ecosystem

Jonah Gabry from the Stan Development Team kicked off “R” week with a talk on making Bayes easier in the R ecosystem. Jonah went over the packages (rstanarm, rstantools, bayesplot and loo) which emulate other R model-fitting functions, unify function naming across Stan-based R packages, and develop plotting functions using ggplot objects.

50 Conference Attendees Participated in Pre-Conference Workshops on Thursday before the Conference

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People learning about machine learning from Max Kuhn during the pre-conference workshops

On the Thursday before the two-day conference, more than 50 conference attendees arrived at Work-Bench a day early for a full day of workshops. This was the first year of the R Conference Workshop Series. Max Kuhn, Dan Chen, Elizabeth Sweeney and Kaz Sakamoto each led a workshop which covered the following topics:

  • Machine Learning with Caret (Max Kuhn)
  • Git for Data Science (Dan Chen)
  • Introduction to Survival Analysis (Elizabeth Sweeney)
  • Geospatial Statistics and Mapping in R (Kaz Sakamoto)

The Growth of R-Ladies Summed Up in Three Pictures…

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We are so excited to see the growth of the R-Ladies community and we appreciate their support for the NY R Conference over the years. Congratulations ladies!

Dr. Andrew Gelman Delivers Keynote Speech on the Fallacy of P-Values and Thinking like a Statistician—All Without Slides

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Andrew Gelman wowing the crowd as usual

There wasn’t a soul in the crowd who wasn’t hanging on every word from Columbia professor Dr. Andrew Gelman. The only speaker with a 40-minute time slot, and the only speaker to not use slides, Dr. Gelman talked about life as a statistician, warned of the perils of p-values and stressed the importance of simulation—before data collection—to improve our understanding of possible real-life scenarios. “Only through simulating fake data, can you really have statistical confidence about whatever performance metric you’re aiming for,” Gelman noted.

While we try not to pick a favorite speaker, Dr. Gelman runs away with that title every time he comes to speak at the New York R Conference.

Jacqueline and Heather Nolis Taught Us to Not to Be Afraid of Deep Learning and Model Deployment in Production

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Jacqueline Nolis showing how fun and easy deep learning can be

The final talk on day one was perhaps the most entertaining and insightful from the weekend. Jacqueline Nolis taught us how developing a deep learning model is easier than we thought and how humor can help us understand a complex idea in a simple form. Our top five favorite neural network-generate pet names: Dia, Spok, Jori, Lule, and Timuse!

On Saturday morning, Heather Nolis showed us how we can deploy the model into production. Heather walked through the steps involved in preparing an R model for production using containers (Docker) and container orchestration (Kubernetes) to share models throughout an organization or for the public. How can we put a model into production without your laptop running 24/7? By running the code safely on a server in the cloud!

Emily Robinson and Honey Berk Win Headphones for Most Tweets During the Conference

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Emily Robinson winning the tweeting grand prize

If you’re not following Emily Robinson (@robinson_es) and Honey Berk (@honeyberk), you’re missing out! Emily and Honey led all conference attendees in Twitter mentions according to our Twitter scorekeeper Malorie Hughes (@data_all_day). Because of Emily and Honey’s presence on Twitter, those who were unable to attend the conference were able to follow along with all of our incredible speakers throughout the two-day event.

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Tweet stats dashboard created by Malorie Hughes

Jared Lander Debuts New-Born R Package Hex Sticker T-Shirts: Congratulations to Jared and Rebecca on the Birth of their Son, Lev

Baby themed hex sticker shirts designed by Vivian Peng

During my talk I debuted a custom R package hex sticker t-shirt with my wife Rebecca and son Lev. We R a very nerdy family.

Looking Forward to 2020

If you attended the 2019 New York R Conference, we hope you had an incredible experience. If you did not attend the conference, we hope to see you next year!

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Jared Lander is the Chief Data Scientist of Lander Analytics a New York data science firm, Adjunct Professor at Columbia University, Organizer of the New York Open Statistical Programming meetup and the New York and Washington DC R Conferences and author of R for Everyone.

Baby Hex Stickers

Members Over Time

Ten years ago Josh Reich held the first ever New York Open Statistical Programming Meetup at Union Square Ventures. Back then it was called the New York R Meetup and 21 people RSVP’d. I discovered the Meetup three months later thanks to Andrew Gelman’s blog and by then the RSVP count had doubled and Drew Conway became a co-organizer. The experience was so much fun and I learned a lot of good stuff. I remember learning about the head() and tail() functions, wishing I learned them in grad school.

Early Meetup
The crowd at an early meetup fit in a small room at Columbia with room to spare.

I started attending regularly and pretty soon Drew decided to serve pizza which later led to years of pizza data. He also designed a logo for the NYC Data Mafia, which made for a great t-shirt that we still sell. One time, a number of us were talking and realized we were all answering each other’s questions on StackOverflow. Our community was growing both in person and online. I fell in love with the group because it was a great place to learn and hang out with smart, welcoming people.

During the first two years our hosts included NYU, Columbia, AOL and a handful of others. At this time there were about 1,800 members with Drew as the sole organizer who was ready to focus on other parts of his life, so he asked Wes McKinney and me to take over as organizers. This was after Drew renamed the group the Open Statistical Programming Meetup as to include other open source languages like Python, Julia, Go and SQL. I was incredibly thrilled to organize this group which meant so much to me.

Over the next eight years our numbers swelled to almost 11,000 with members and speakers coming from all over the world. We have held the Meetup at places such as eBay, AT&T, iHeartRadio, Work-Bench, Knewton, Twitter, New York Presbyterian, Rise New York and Google. The most popular event welcomed nearly 400 people when Hadley Wickham spoke in September of 2015, the only time the Meetup met on a Friday.

Hadley, Becky and Jared
The Meetup’s most popular night featured Hadley Wickham and coincided with my fifth date with Rebecca Martin, my future wife.

That night was also my fifth date with Rebecca Martin. We originally met during Michael Kane’s talk about PubMed then reconnected about a year later. We went on to get married and have a kid together. The New York Times used the nerdiest closing line ever for our wedding announcement: “The couple met in New York in May 2014 at a meet-up about statistical programming organized by the groom.”

Baby Hex Stickers
Rebecca and I recently added a new R programmer to our family and celebrated with baby-themed hex sticker shirts.

The Meetup has grown not only in numbers but in reach as well. There’s a website hosting all of the presentations, we livestream the Meetups and people from all over the world chat in our Slack team. Our live events include an ongoing workshop series and conferences in New York and Washington DC, which just hit their fifth anniversary, all for building and supporting the community and open source software.

NY R Conference
The crowd at the New York R Conference.

These past ten years have been a collection of amazing experiences for me where I got to learn from some of the world’s best experts and develop lasting relationships with great people. This community means so much to me and I very much look forward to its continued growth over the next decade.

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Jared Lander is the Chief Data Scientist of Lander Analytics a New York data science firm, Adjunct Professor at Columbia University, Organizer of the New York Open Statistical Programming meetup and the New York and Washington DC R Conferences and author of R for Everyone.

Pi Cake 2019
Pi Cake 2019

On Pi Day this year I was giving a keynote talk at DataFest in Scotland, so we celebrated Pi Day a week later, on the 21st. While it wasn’t the exact date, there’s never a bad time to eat pizza and Pi Cake.

This was the tenth Pi Cake, and it’s pretty hard to beat the Einstein design on last year’s Pi Cake, so Empire Cakes gave created us a cake with the actual definition of pi: The ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter.

For pizza we went to the new Lombardi’s in Chelsea. They use an amazing electric oven instead of coal, so if you look closely you can tell the difference, but the pizza was still great and the decor was fantastic. 

And now Pi Cake throughout the years:

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Jared Lander is the Chief Data Scientist of Lander Analytics a New York data science firm, Adjunct Professor at Columbia University, Organizer of the New York Open Statistical Programming meetup and the New York and Washington DC R Conferences and author of R for Everyone.

2018 New York R Conference

The 2018 New York R Conference was the biggest and best yet. This is both in terms of the crowd size and content.  The speakers included some of the R community’s best such as Hadley Wickham, David Robinson, Jennifer Hill, Max Kuhn, Andreas Mueller (ok, a little Python), Evelina Gabasova, Sean Taylor and Jeff Ryan. I am proud to say we were almost at gender parity for both attendees and speakers which is amazing for a tech conference. Brooke Watson even excitedly noted that we had a line for the women’s room.

Particularly gratifying for me was seeing so many of my students speak. Eurry Kim, Dan Chen and Alex Boghosian all gave excellent talks.

Some highlights that stuck out to me are:

Emily Robinson Shows There is More to the Tidyverse than Hadley

The Expanded Tidyverse

Emily Robinson, otherwise known as ERob, gave an excellent talk showing how the Tidyverse is so much more than just Hadley and that there are many people inspired by him to contribute in the Tidy way.

Sean Taylor Forecasted the Future with Prophet

Sean Taylor

Sean Taylor, former New Yorker and unrepentant Eagles fan, demonstrate his powerful R and Python, package Prophet, for forecasting time series data. Facebook open sourced his work so we could all benefit.

OG Data Mafia Founder Drew Conway Popped In

Giving away a data mafia shirt

A lucky fan got an autographed NYC Data Mafia t-shirt from Drew Conway.

David Smith Playing Minecraft Through R

Minecraft in R

David Smith played Minecraft through R, including building objects and moving through the world.

Evelina Gabasova Used Social Network Analysis to Break Down Star Wars

It's a Trap

Evelina Gabasova wowed the audience with her fun talk and detailed analysis of character interaction in Star Wars.

Dusty Turner Represented West Point

Dusty Talking Army Sports

Dusty Turner taught us how the United States Military Academy uses R for both student instruction and evaluation.

Hadley Wickham Delved into the Nitty Gritty of R

Hadley shows off objects are stored in memory

Hadley Wickham showed us how to get into the internals of R and figure out how to examine objects from a memory perspective.

Jennifer Hill Demonstrated Awesome Machine Learning Techniques for Causal Inference

Jennifer Hill Explaining Causal Inference

Following her sold-out meetup appearance in March, Jennifer continued to push the boundaries of causal inference.

I Made the Authors of Caret and scitkit-learn Show That R and Python Can Get Along

Caret and Scikit-learn in one place

While both Andreas and Max gave great individual talks, I made them pose for this peace-making photo.

David Robinson Got the Upper Hand in a Sibling Twitter Duel

DRob Teaching

Given only about 30 minutes notice, David put together an entire slideshow on how to livetweet and how to compete with your sibling.

In the End Emily Robinson Beat Her Brother For Best Tweeting

Emily won the prize for best tweeting

Despite David’s headstart Emily was the best tweeter (as calculated by Max Kuhn and Mara Averick) so she won the WASD Code mechanical keyboard with MX Cherry Clear switches.

Silent Auction of Data Paintings

The Robinson Family bought the Pizza Data painting for me

Thomas Levine made paintings of famous datasets that we auctioned off with the proceeds supporting the R Foundation and the Free Software Foundation. The Robinson family very graciously chipped in and bought the painting of the Pizza Poll data for me! I’m still floored by this and in love with the painting.

Ice Cream Sandwiches

Ice Cream Sandwiches

In addition to bagels and eggs sandwiches from Murray’s Bagels, Israeli food from Hummus and Pita Company, avocado toast and coffee from Bluestone Lane Coffee and pizza from Fiore’s, we also had ice creams sandwiches from World’s Best Cookie Dough.

All the Material

To catch up on all the presentations check out Mara Averick’s excellent notes:

Or check out all of Brooke’s drawings, collated by Dan Chen.

Videos and Upcoming Events

The videos will be posted at rstats.nyc in a few weeks for all to enjoy.

There are a number of other events coming up including:

We are already beginning plans for next year’s conference and are working on bringing it to DC as well! Stay tuned for all that and more.

Dan loves his mug

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Jared Lander is the Chief Data Scientist of Lander Analytics a New York data science firm, Adjunct Professor at Columbia University, Organizer of the New York Open Statistical Programming meetup and the New York and Washington DC R Conferences and author of R for Everyone.

Pi Day 2018

It’s Pi Day, when we celebrate all things round by eating pizza and Pi Cake. This is the ninth year we have celebrated Pi Day and the fourth year in a row we got the Pi Cake from Empire Cakes. This year’s pizza place was Arturo’s on Thompson and Houston. Arturo’s is a great example of old New York pizza with an oven dating to the 1920’s.

In addition to the traditional Pi Symbol atop the cake we added Albert Einstein since today is also his birthday. It seems fitting that we lost one of the world’s other greatest physicists, Stephen Hawking on the same math holiday.

Pi Cake 2018

The crew has grown quite large from the five of us who celebrated our first pie day almost a decade ago.

Some more pictures from this fun night.

And now Pi Cake throughout the years:

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Jared Lander is the Chief Data Scientist of Lander Analytics a New York data science firm, Adjunct Professor at Columbia University, Organizer of the New York Open Statistical Programming meetup and the New York and Washington DC R Conferences and author of R for Everyone.

Snowstorm Stella impacted both our numbers and our location, but last night a smaller crew braved the cold weather and messy streets to celebrate Pi Day with pizza and Pi Cake at Ribalta.

We naturally ate a lot of round pies and even a rectangular pie to honor Hippocrates’ squaring the lune.

This year’s Pi Cake came from Empire Cakes for the third year in a row.  It was their Brooklyn Blackout cake with Chocolate frosting, a blue Pi symbol on top and blue circles with red radii around the sides.

Some pictures from last night:

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And all the years’ Pi Cakes:

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Jared Lander is the Chief Data Scientist of Lander Analytics a New York data science firm, Adjunct Professor at Columbia University, Organizer of the New York Open Statistical Programming meetup and the New York and Washington DC R Conferences and author of R for Everyone.

Highlights from the 2016 New York R Conference

Originally posted on www.work-bench.com.

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You might be asking yourself, “How was the 2016 New York R Conference?”

Well, if we had to sum it up in one picture, it would look a lot like this (thank you to Drew Conway for the slide & delivering the battle cry for data science in NYC):

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Our 2nd annual, sold-out New York R Conference was back this year on April 8th & 9th at Work-Bench. Co-hosted with our friends at Lander Analytics, this year’s conference was bigger and better than ever, with over 250 attendees, and speakers from Airbnb, AT&T, Columbia University, eBay, Etsy, RStudio, Socure, and Tamr. In case you missed the conference or want to relive the excitement, all of the talks and slides are now live on the R Conference website.

With 30 talks, each 20 minutes long and two forty-minute keynotes, the topics of the presentations were just as diverse as the speakers. Vivian Peng gave an emotional talk on data visualization using non-visual senses and “The Feels.” Bryan Lewis measured the shadows of audience members to demonstrate the pros and cons of projection methods, and Daniel Lee talked about life, love, Stan, and March Madness. But, even with 32 presentations from a diverse selection of speakers, two dominant themes emerged: 1) Community and 2) Writing better code.

Given the amazing caliber of speakers and attendees, community was on everyone’s mind from the start. Drew Conway emoted the past, present, and future of data science in NYC, and spoke to the dangers of tearing down the tent we built. Joe Rickert from Microsoft discussed the R Consortium and how to become involved. Wes McKinney talked about community efforts in improving interoperability between data science languages with the new Feather data frame file format under the Apache Arrow project. Elena Grewal discussed how Airbnb’s data science team made changes to the hiring process to increase the number of female hires, and Andrew Gelman even talked about how your political opinions are shaped by those around you in his talk about Social Penumbras.

Writing better code also proved to be a dominant theme throughout the two day conference. Dan Chen of Lander Analytics talked about implementing tests in R. Similarly, Neal Richardson and Mike Malecki of Crunch.io talked about how they learned to stop munging and love tests, and Ben Lerner discussed how to optimize Python code using profilers and Cython. The perfect intersection of themes came from Bas van Schaik of Semmle who discussed how to use data science to write better code by treating code as data. While everyone had some amazing insights, these were our top five highlights:

JJ Allaire Releases a New Preview of RStudio

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JJ Allaire, the second speaker of the conference, got the crowd fired up by announcing new features of RStudio and new packages. Particularly exciting was bookdown for authoring large documents, R Notebooks for interactive Markdown files and shared sessions so multiple people can code together from separate computers.

Andrew Gelman Discusses the Political Impact of the Social Penumbra

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As always, Dr. Andrew Gelman wowed the crowd with his breakdown of how political opinions are shaped by those around us. He utilized his trademark visualizations and wit to convey the findings of complex models.

Vivian Peng Helps Kick off the Second Day with a Punch to the Gut

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On the morning of the second day of the conference, Vivian Peng gave a heartfelt talk on using data visualization and non-visual senses to drive emotional reaction and shape public opinion on everything from the Syrian civil war to drug resistance statistics.

Ivor Cribben Studies Brain Activity with Time Varying Networks

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University of Alberta Professor Ivor Cribben demonstrated his techniques for analyzing fMRI data. His use of network graphs, time series and extremograms brought an academic rigor to the conference.

Elena Grewal Talks About Scaling Data Science at Airbnb

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After a jam-packed 2 full days, Elena Grewal helped wind down the conference with a thoughtful introspection on how Airbnb has grown their data science team from 5 to 70 people, with a focus on increasing diversity and eliminating bias in the hiring process.

See the full conference videos & presentations below, and sign up for updates for the 2017 New York R Conference on www.rstats.nyc. To get your R fix in the meantime, follow @nyhackr, @Work_Bench, and @rstatsnyc on Twitter, and check out the New York Open Programming Statistical Meetup or one of Work-Bench’s upcoming events!

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Jared Lander is the Chief Data Scientist of Lander Analytics a New York data science firm, Adjunct Professor at Columbia University, Organizer of the New York Open Statistical Programming meetup and the New York and Washington DC R Conferences and author of R for Everyone.

Last night we celebrated Rounded Pi Day by rounding at the 10,000’s digit to get 3.1416 which nicely works with the date 3/14/16.  This was great after Mega Pi Day worked out so perfectly last year.  And this all built upon previous years’ celebrations.

We ate a large quantity of pizza at Lombardi’s. and for the second year in a row we got the Pi Cake from Empire Cakes with peanut butter and chocolate flavors.  The base was inscribed with historic approximations of Pi:  25/8, 256/81, 339/108, 223/71, 377/120, 3927/1250, 355/113, 62832/20000, 22/7.

Some pictures from the fantastic night:

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Previous year’s Pi Cakes:

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Jared Lander is the Chief Data Scientist of Lander Analytics a New York data science firm, Adjunct Professor at Columbia University, Organizer of the New York Open Statistical Programming meetup and the New York and Washington DC R Conferences and author of R for Everyone.

BDA3

Earlier this week, my company, Lander Analytics, organized our first public Bayesian short course, taught by Andrew Gelman, Bob Carpenter and Daniel Lee.  Needless to say the class sold out very quickly and left a long wait list.  So we will schedule another public training (exactly when tbd) and will make the same course available for private training.

This was the first time we utilized three instructors (as opposed to a main instructor and assistants which we often use for large classes) and it led to an amazing dynamic.  Bob laid the theoretical foundation for Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC), explaining both with math and geometry, and discussed the computational considerations of performing simulation draws.  Daniel led the participants through hands-on examples with Stan, covering everything from how to describe a model, to efficient computation to debugging.  Andrew gave his usual, crowd dazzling performance use previous work as case studies of when and how to use Bayesian methods.

It was an intensive three days of training with an incredible amount of information.  Everyone walked away knowing a lot more about Bayes, MCMC and Stan and eager to try out their new skills, and an autographed copy of Andrew’s book, BDA3.

A big help, as always was Daniel Chen who put in so much effort making the class run smoothly from securing the space, physically moving furniture and running all the technology.

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Jared Lander is the Chief Data Scientist of Lander Analytics a New York data science firm, Adjunct Professor at Columbia University, Organizer of the New York Open Statistical Programming meetup and the New York and Washington DC R Conferences and author of R for Everyone.


I R NY
On April 24th and 25th Lander Analytics and Work-Bench coorganized the (sold-out) inaugural New York R Conference. It was an amazing weekend of nerding out over R and data, with a little Python and Julia mixed in for good measure. People from all across the R community gathered to see rockstars discuss their latest and greatest efforts.

Highlights include:


BryanLewis
Bryan Lewis wowing the crowd (there were literally gasps) with rthreejs implemented with htmlwidgets.


HilaryParker
Hilary Parker receiving spontaneous applause in the middle of her talk about reproducible research at Etsy for her explainr, catsplainr and mansplainr packages.


JamesPowell
James Powell speaking flawless Mandarin in a talk tangentially about Python.


VivianPeng
Vivian Peng also receiving spontaneous applause for her discussion of storytelling with data.


WesMcKinney
Wes McKinney showing love for data.frames in all languages and sporting an awesome R t-shirt.


DanChen
Dan Chen using Shiny to study Ebola data.


AndyGelman
Andrew Gelman blowing away everyone with his keynote about Bayesian methods with particular applications in politics.

Videos of the talks are available at http://www.rstats.nyc/#speakers with slides being added frequently.

A big thank you to sponsors RStudio, Revolution Analytics, DataKind, Pearson, Brewla Bars and Twillory.


Next year’s conference is already being planned for April. To inquire about sponsoring or speaking please get in touch.

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Jared Lander is the Chief Data Scientist of Lander Analytics a New York data science firm, Adjunct Professor at Columbia University, Organizer of the New York Open Statistical Programming meetup and the New York and Washington DC R Conferences and author of R for Everyone.