R tips and tricks – Timing and profiling code

Modern statistical methods use simulations; generating different scenarios and repeating those thousands of times over. Therefore, even trivial operations burden computational speed.

In the words of my favorite statistician Bradley Efron:

“There is some sort of law working here, whereby statistical methodology always expands to strain the current limits of computation.”

In addition to the need for faster computation, the richness of open-source ecosystem means that you often encounter different functions doing the same thing, sometimes even under the same name. This post explains how to measure the computational efficacy of a function so you know which one to use, with a couple of actual examples for reducing computational time.


R tips and tricks, on-screen colors

I like using Rlogo for many reasons. Two of those are (1) easy integration with almost whichever software you can think of, and (2) for its graphical powers. Color-wise, I dare to assume you probably plotted, re-specified your colors, plotted again, and iterated until you found what works for your specific chart. Here you can find modern visualization so you are able to quickly find the colors you look for, and to quickly see how it looks on screen. See below for quick demo.


Kaggle Experience

At least in part, a typical data-scientist is busy with forecasting and prediction. Kaggle is a platform which hosts a slew of competitions. Those who have the time, energy and know-how to combat real-life problems, are huddling together to test their talent. I highly recommend this experience. A side effect of tackling actual problems (rather than those which appear in textbooks), is that most of the time you are not at all enjoying new wonderful insights or exploring fascinating unfamiliar, ground-breaking algos. Rather, you are handling\wrangling\manipulating data, which is.. ugly and boring, but necessary and useful.

I tried my powers few years ago, and again about 6 months ago in one of those competitions called Toxic Comment Classification Challenge. Here are my thoughts on that short experience and some insight from scraping the results of that competition.


Bitcoin exponential growth

Is bitcoin a bubble? I don’t know. What defines a bubble? The price should drastically overestimate the underlying fundamentals. I simply don’t know much about blockchain to have an opinion there. A related characteristic is a run-away price. Going up fast just because it is going up fast.


The annual useR! conference

This year on 4th of July I will be attending the annual usrR! conference. While it is often in the US, this year the UseR! conference takes place in the nearby Brussels. Sweet.

The website is state-of-the-art “don’t make me think” style. The program looks amazing. Belgian beers with the R community, exciting. Registration still open.

Watch this space for highlights and afterthoughts.

Live volatility monitor

In April this year, Rstudio notified early users of shiny that Glimmer and Spark servers which host interactive-applications would be decommissioned. Basically, the company is moving forward to generate revenues from this great interactive application service. For us aspirants who use the service strictly as a hobby, that means, in a word: pay.

Basic subscription now costs around 40$ per month. Keeping your applications free of charge is possible BUT, as long as it is not used for more than 25 hours per month. So if your site generate some traffic, most users would simply not be able to access the app. Apart from that, you are subject to some built-in Rstudio’s logo which can’t be removed without having a paid subscription. That is a shame, but a company’s gotta eat right? I am using Rstudio’s services from their very beginning, and the company definitely deserve to eat! only I wish there would be another step between the monthly 0$ option which provides too slim capabilities, and the monthly 40$ option which is, in my admittedly biased opinion, too pricey for a ‘sometimes’ hobby.


Dark background theme for reading

I am picking up on Rob Hyndman’s suggestion on dark themes for writing. I carried on with a bit of “internet-scientific” reading. Opinions on ‘dark vs white’ background themes, which is better for your eyes, are mixed. You are busy, so just the bottom line: do what works for you.