R and Spark: Tools for Data Science Workflows

Saturday, September 30, 2017 - 9:00am to Monday, October 2, 2017 - 4:59pm

R is flexible, extensible statistical computing environment, but it is limited to single-core execution. Spark is a distributed computing environment which treats R as a first-class programming language. This course introduces data structures in R and their use in functional programming workflows relevant to data science. 

The course covers the initial steps in the data science process: 

  • extracting data from source systems
  • transforming data into a tidy form
  • loading data into distributed file systems, distributed data warehouses, and NoSQL databases, i.e., ETL. 

This workflow is illustrated by using the SparkR and sparklyr package frontends to Spark from R.

SparkR and sparklyr are then used as interfaces for modeling big data using regression and classification supervised learning methods. Unsupervised learning methods, such as clustering and dimension reduction, are also covered. Additional methods, such as gradient boosting and deep learning, are illustrated using the h2o and rsparkling R packages. Finally, methods for analyzing streaming data are presented. The course finishes with an in-depth example. The infrastructure and content is containerized for easy download to your laptop using Docker.


E. James Harner 
E. James Harner is Professor Emeritus of Statistics at West Virginia University (WVU). He was the Chair of the Department of Statistics for 17 years and the Director of the Cancer Center Bioinformatics Core for 15 years at WVU. Currently, he is the Chairman of the Interface Foundation of North America which has partnered with the American Statistical Association to organize the annual Symposium on Data Science and Statistics (SDSS), May 16-19, 2018, Reston, VA. The areas of his technical and research expertise include bioinformatics, high-dimensional modeling, high-performance computing, streaming and big data modeling and statistical machine learning.

FEES (The registration fee includes continental breakfast, lunch and afternoon snacks for each day)

  • For NISS Affiliate Institutions: $150 for regular registration, $100 for students. 
  • For Non-NISS Affiliate Institutions: $200 for regular registration, $125 for students.

Differential calculus, basic matrix algebra, a statistics course covering regression, basic R. Special rates for students. 
Operating Systems: MacOS 10.11 (El Capitan) or higher or Windows 10 Professional. Students must bring their own laptops.

Direct questions about this course to the Instructor E. James Harner at eharner@mail.wvu.edu or call him on his cell phone at 304-376-4170.
To enroll in this shortcourse, contact officeadmin@niss.org 

DOWNLOAD course flyer.


Event Type


Genomics Auditorium
University of California
900 University Avenue
United States