We are so excited to bring back the fourth annual Government and Public Sector R Conference to a computer screen near you! Join us on December 9th and 10th for a jam-packed two-day conference filled with an incredible lineup of speakers across the government and public sector space.
Introduction to Machine Learning for Public Policy with Jonathan Hersh
Alexandra, one of my former students, plans to take you through data analysis on climate change, by exploring publicly available datasets that you may or may not have known about. As Alexandra describes it, “by the end of the day, attendees should have a working knowledge of how the data support the science, and where to gather data and information about specific climate change issues they may face in their work.”
If a workshop on climate change is not right for you, my close friend Jonathan Hersh is giving his workshop on machine learning for public policy. Jonathan will lead you through applied machine learning exercises with a focus on the public space. The session will cover basic concepts like supervised vs. unsupervised learning, testing and training sets, and the bias-variance tradeoff. Jonathan will also review linear regression, ridge regression, cross-validation, and lasso regression. He will cover R Language and syntax, data manipulation in R, exploratory data analysis, and basic plotting in R.
I would like to extend a special thank you to my good friend, Marck Vaisman and the Data Community DC. This conference would not be possible without your continued support. And I thank you, Marck, for our close friendship over the years. It has been incredible to witness the growth of the meetup community right alongside you.
The inaugural Government & Public Sector R Conference took place virtually from December 2nd to December 4th. With over 240 attendees, 26 speakers, three panelists and a rum masterclass class leader, the R|Gov conference was a place where data scientists could gather remotely to explore, share, and inspire ideas.
Check out some of the highlights from the conference:
Graciela Chichilnisky explains how financial instruments can resolve climate change
One of my former professors at Columbia University, Dr. Graciela Chichilnisky, gave a presentation on how financial instruments can resolve climate change quickly and effectively by using existing capital markets to benefit high—and, especially, low—income groups. The process Dr. Chichilnisky proposes is simple and can lead to a transformation of our capitalistic economy in the direction of human survival. Furthermore, it is realistic and is profitable. Dr. Chichilnisky acted as the lead U.S. author on the Intergovernmental panel on Climate Change, which received the 2007 Nobel Prize for its work in deciding world policy with respect to climate change, and she worked extensively on the Kyoto Protocol, creating and designing the carbon market that became international law in 2005.
Another classic no-slides talk from Andrew Gelman on how his team and The Economist Magazine built a presidential election forecasting model
Another professor of mine, Andrew Gelman told us he wanted to give a talk on how his team’s election forecasting succeeded brilliantly, failed miserably, or landed somewhere in between. To build the model, they combined national polls, state polls, and political and economic fundamentals. Because we didn’t know the results of the election at the time, he didn’t know which of the three he’d be talking about… So how did his election forecast perform? The model predicted 49 out of 50 states correctly… But that doesn’t mean the forecast was perfect… For some background, see this article.
Wendy Martinez inspires and shares lessons about the rocky road she traveled to using R at a U.S. Government agency
Wendy Martinez described some of her experiences — both successes and failures — using R at several U.S. government agencies. In addition to serving as the Director of the Mathematical Statistics Research Center at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for the last eight years, she is currently the President of the American Statistical Association (ASA), and she also served in several research positions throughout the Department of Defense. She has also written two books on MATLAB! It’s nice to see that she switched to open source.
Colonel Alfredo Corbett Spoke On Air Combat Command Enterprise Data Improvements
Deputy Director of Communications of the United States Air Force Colonel Alfedo Corbett showed us why, in his work, data can be a warfighting asset, fundamental to how Air Combat Command (ACC) operates in—and supports—all domains of warfare. In coordination with the Department of Defense and the Department of the Air Force, ACC is working to improve its data governance, data architecture, data standards, and data talent & culture, implementing major improvements to the way it manages, acquires, ingests, stores, processes, exploits, analyzes, and delivers data to its almost 100,000 operators.
We Participated in Two Virtual Happy Hours!
At lunch on the first day of the conference, we took a dive into the history and distillation process of a legendary rum made at the longest continuously running distillery in the world, Mount Gay Brand Ambassador Darrio Prescod shared his knowledge and transported us to Barbados (where he tuned in from virtually). Following the second day of the conference, members of the Mount Gay brand development team took us through a rum tasting and shook up a couple of cocktails. Attendees and speakers listened and hung out, drinking rum, matcha, soda or water during our virtual happy hour.
All proceeds from the A(R)T Auction went to the R Foundation
We took an R-Ladies group [virtual] selfie. We would like to note that more R-Ladies participated, but chose not to share video.:
Jon Harmon, Selina Carter, Mayarí Montes de Oca & DiKayo Data win Raspberry Pis, Noise Cancelling Headphones, and Gaming Mechanical Keyboards for Most Active Tweeting You can see the R|Gov 2020 R Shiny Scoreboard here! A custom started at DCR 2018 by our Twitter scorekeeper Malorie Hughes (@data_all_day), has returned every year by popular demand. Congratulations to our winners!
52 Conference Attendees Participated in Pre-Conference Workshops
We ran the following workshops prior to the conference:
Moving from DCR to R|Gov With the shift to remote, we realized we could welcome a global audience to our annual conference, as we did for the virtual New York R Conference in August. And that gave birth to R|Gov, the Government and Public Sector R Conference. This new industry-focused conference focused on work in government, defense, NGOs and the public sector, and we have speakers from not only the DC-area, but also from Geneva, Switzerland, Nashville, Tennessee, Quebec, Canada and Los Angeles, California. For next year, we are working to invite speakers from more levels of government–local, state and federal. You can read more about this choice here.
Like NYR, R|Gov featured many in-person components of the gathering, like networking sessions, speaker walk-on songs and fun facts, happy hours, lots of giveaways, the Twitter contest, and the auction.
Thank you, Lander Analytics Team!
Even though it was virtual, there was a lot of work that went into the conference, and I want to thank my amazing team at Lander Analytics along with our producer, Bill Prickett, for making it all come together.
Looking Forward to New York, R|Gov, and Dublin!
If you attended, we hope you had an incredible experience. If you did not attend this year’s conference, we hope to see you at the at the New York R Conference and R|Gov in 2021, and, soon, the first Dublin R Conference.
My team at Lander Analytics has been putting together conferences for six years, and they’ve always had the same fun format, which the community has really enjoyed. There’s the NYR conference for New Yorkers and those who want to fly, drive or train to join the New York community, and there’s DCR, which gathers the DC-area community. The last DCR Conference at Georgetown University went really well, as you can see in this recap. With the shift to virtual gatherings brought on by the pandemic, our community has gone fully remote, including the monthly Open Statistical Programming Meetup. With that, we realized the DCR Conference didn’t just need to be for folks from the DC-area anymore, instead, we could welcome a global audience like we did with this year’s NYR. And that gave birth to R|Gov, the Government and Public Sector R Conference.
R|Gov is really a new industry-focused conference. Instead of drawing on speakers from a particular city or area, the talks will focus on work done in specific fields. In this case, in government, defense, NGOs and the public sector, and we have speakers from not only the DC-area, but also from Geneva, Switzerland, Nashville, Tennessee, Quebec, Canada and Los Angeles, California. For the last three years, we have been working with Data Community DC, R-Ladies DC, and the Statistical Programming DC Meetup, to put on DCR, and continue to do so for R|Gov as we find great speakers and organizations who want to collaborate in driving attendance and building the community.
Like NYR and DCR, the topics at R|Gov range from practical how-tos, to theoretical findings, to processes, to tooling and the speakers this year come from the Center for Army Analysis, NASA, Columbia University, The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Inter-American Development Bank, The United States Census Bureau, Harvard Business School, In-Q-Tel, Virginia Tech, Deloitte, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Georgetown University, among others. We will also be hosting two rum and gin master classes, including one with Mount Gay, which comes from the oldest continuously running rum distillery in the world, and which George Washington served at his inauguration!
The R Conference series is quite a bit different from other industry and academic conferences. The talks are twenty minutes long with no audience questions with the exception of special talks from the likes of Andrew Gelman or Hadley Wickham. Whether in person or virtual, we play music, have prize giveaways and involve food in the programming. When they were in person, we prided ourselves on avocado toast, pizza, ice cream and beer. For prizewinners, we autographed books right on stage since the authors were either speakers or in the audience. With the virtual events we try to capture as much of that spirit as possible, and the community really enjoyed the virtual R Conference | NY in August. A very lively event remotely and in the flesh, it is also one of the more informative conferences I have ever seen.
This virtual conference will include much of the in-person format, just recreated virtually. We will have 24 talks, a panel, workshops, community and networking breaks, happy hours, prizes and giveaways, a Twitter Contest, Meet the Speaker series, Job Board access, and participation in the Art Auction. We hope to see you there December 2-4, on a comfy couch near you.
The Second Annual DCR Conference made its way to the ICC Auditorium at Georgetown University last week on November 8th and 9th. A sold-out crowd of R enthusiasts and data scientists gathered to explore, share and inspire ideas.
As always, the food was delicious! Our caterer even surprised us with Lander cookies.
David Robinson shared his Ten Tremendous Tricks in the Tidyverse. Always enthusiastic, DRob did a great job showing both well known and obscure functions for an easier data workflow.
Elizabeth Sweeney gave an awesome talk on Visualizing the Environmental Impact of Beef Consumption using Plotly and Shiny. We explored the impact of eating different cuts of beef in terms of the number of animal lives, Co2 emissions, water usage, and land usage. Did you know that there is a big difference in the environmental impact of consuming 100 pounds of hanger steak versus the same weight in ground beef? She used plotly to make interactive graphics and R Shiny to make an interactive webpage to explore the data.
The integrated development environment, RStudio, fully integrated themselves into the environment.
As a father, I’ve earned the right to make dad jokes (see above). You can see the slides for my talk, Raising Baby with R. While babies are commonly called bundles of joy, they are also bundles of data. Being the child of a data scientist and neuroscientist my son was certain to be analyzed myriad ways. I discussed how we used data to narrow down possible names then looked at using time series methods to analyze his sleeping and eating patterns. All in the name of science.
After four sold-out years in New York City, the R Conference made its debut in Washington DC to a sold-out crowd of data scientists at the Ronald Reagan Building on November 8th & 9th. Our speakers shared presentations on a variety of R-related topics.
R Superstars Mara Averick, Roger Peng and Emily Robinson
A hallmark of our R conferences is that the speakers hang out with all the attendees and these three were crowd favorites.
Michael Powell Brings R to the aRmy
Major Michael Powell describes how R has brought efficiency to the Army Intelligence and Security Command by getting analysts out of Excel and into the Tidyverse. “Let me turn those 8 hours into 8 seconds for you,” says Powell.
Max Kuhn Explains the Applications of Equivocals to Apply Levels of Certainty to Predictions
After autographing his book, Applied Predictive Modeling, for a lucky attendee, Max Kuhn explains how Equivocals can be applied to individual predictions in order to avoid reporting predictions when there is significant uncertainty.
NYR and DCR Speaker Emily Robinson Getting an NYR Hoodie for her Awesome Tweeting
Emily Robinson tweeted the most at the 2018 NYR conference, winning her a WASD mechanical keyboard and at DCR she came in second so we gave her a limited edition NYR hoodie.
Max Richman Shows How SQL and R can Co-Exist
Max Richman, wearing the same shirt he wore when he spoke at the first NYR, shows parallels between dplyr and SQL.
Michael Garris Tells the Story of the MNIST Dataset
Michael Garris was a member of the team that built the original MNIST dataset, which set the standard for handwriting image classification in the early 1990s. This talk may have been the first time the origin story was ever told.
R Stats Luminary Roger Peng Explains Relationship Between Air Pollution and Public Health
Roger Peng shows us how air pollution levels has fallen over the past 50 years resulting in dramatic improvements in air quality and health (with help from R).
Kelly O’Briant Combining R with Serverless Computing
On the first day I challenged the audience to analyze the tweets from the conference and Malorie Hughes, a data scientist with NPR, designed a Twitter analytics dashboard to track the attendee with the most tweets with the hashtag #rstatsdc. Seth Wenchel won a WASD keyboard for the best tweeting. And we presented Malorie wit a DCR speaker mug.
Strong Showing from the #RLadies!
The #rladies group is growing year after year and it is great seeing them in force at NYR and DCR!