Popular R & Spark Workshop Engages DC Area Statisticians

NISS Targets Training for Government Affiliates

Statisticians from the Washington, DC area got together at the Bureau of Labor Statistics conference and training center November 25 and 26 for the popular R & Spark course.  Once again presented in a two-day workshop, this time with priority registration access given to NISS Government Affiliates.

The workshop, taught by instructor Dr. James Harner, focuses on the data science process of extracting data from source systems, transforming this data into a tidy form, and then loading this data into distributed file systems, distributed data warehouses, and NoSQL databases, i.e., ETL. This workflow uses the SparkR and sparklyr packages as frontends to Spark from R.  This provides the interfaces for modeling big data using regression and classification supervised learning methods   These methods and others were covered using a rich set of examples. An encapsulated computing environment containing RSparkHadoop, etc. was accessed by attendees interact with the code locally or in Amazon’s cloud.

A Positive Experience

"R & Spark: Tools for Data Science Workflows" continues to be one of NISS's more popular workshops and - again - is due in large part to the role that Dr. Harner has played as instructor.  Here are some comments from recent workshop participants:

"The instructor did a great job of explaining the big picture of how workflows are becoming different, and tying that to concerns of statisticians."

"Dr. Harner is very approachable. He also explains the concepts very clear, and generously provides students with notes and other learning material, which I really appreciate."

"Instructor was good and provided a lot of helpful resources for material that there was not time to cover."

"The instructor had a wide breath of knowledge about the field and, most importantly, he is current on the latest trends. (something you don't see from some instructors)."

Also, it is usually a good sign if participants want more!

"It could be longer, i.e. 3 days or more."

Are there ways we can make this workshop better?  Absolutely - there are always areas for improvement and NISS listens!  Each workshop participant is asked to provide an evaluation which includes suggestions for improvement.  These susggestions are our first step for thinking about ways we make the workshop more engaging and on point for participants.

Can NISS Provide This Course in Your Location?

If your area or your institution is interested in having this workshop taught in your area, please contact NISS.  To date, NISS has sponsored this workshop seven times.  Locations have included: UC Riverside, with CANSII in Toronto,Canada, with SAMSI in North Carolina, and four times in the DC area, three times at the Bureau of Labor Statistics and once at ASA Headquarters!  So, where should NISS send Dr. Harner next?!

Or, if you have ideas for other workshop topics / instructors that would be of interest to NISS affiliates, let NISS know about your ideas.  Contact Randy Freret at officeadmin@niss.org.

Monday, November 25, 2019 by Glenn Johnson