The “Celebrating 20 Years of CRAN and R supporting statistics” event was jointly hosted by the Glasgow Local group and the Young Statisticians Section of the Royal Statistical Society. The event consisted of speakers Dr. Charis Chanialidis, Dr. Mike Spencer and Dr. Colin Gillespie presenting and celebrating the history of CRAN and R software and the multitude of benefits and applications of this statistical tool. The event was co-hosted by Johnathan Love and Kate Pyper and had approximately 50 attendees that attended in person and approximately 50 attendees that joined in on the event, via livestream.
Dr. Charis Chanialidis of the University of Glasgow presented his thoughts about data visualisation and statistical modelling in Shiny, a package from RStudio that provides a web framework for building web applications (apps). In his talk, Dr. Chanialidis highlighted that this package is gaining in popularity and R users can turn statistical analyses into useful and interactive web applications and this was accompanied with a live demonstration using several Shiny apps. One significant point that was highlighted was the fact that Shiny apps can prove to be a useful tool for engaging with non-statisticians and/or the general public.
Afterwards, Dr. Mike Spencer of Scotland’s Rural College, presented his work on predicting snowmelt using R software. Dr. Spencer highlighted how snowmelt contributes to flood risk and gave a brief history of how some of the largest floods, such as the second largest recorded flood event on the River Thames after the winter of 1947, were attributable to snowmelt. In his talk, he demonstrated how he was able to utilise R to model the risks of snowmelt to reservoirs in Scotland, via extreme value analysis. Highlights that Dr. Spencer touched upon include being able to run R as a platform within other software (e.g. GRASS, GIS), and the production of spatial maps that one is able to produce using R software.
Finally, Dr. Colin Gillespie of Newcastle University and jumping rivers, presented a history and the development of CRAN and R software over the past 20 years. In his talk, Dr. Gillespie explained what CRAN is and the requirements involved in producing packages to be installed in R software. One of the main highlights from Dr. Gillespie was how the development of packages has grown tremendously over the past 20 years, such that the number of packages available to be installed in R/RStudio software has surpassed 10,000 as of the 24th April 2017.
Overall, this was a well turned out event by those who could attend in person to the University of Strathclyde and across the country, via livestream, and a rare celebration of CRAN and R software.