Review: Kölner R Meeting 13 December 2013

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Last week's Cologne R user group meeting was the best attended so far. Well, we had a great line up indeed. Matt Dowle came over from London to give an introduction to the data.table package. He was joined by his collaborator Arun Srinivasan, who is based in Cologne. Their talk was followed by Thomas Rahlf on Datendesign mit R (Data design with R).


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Matt's goal with the data.table package is to reduce times; time to write code and to execute code. His talk illustrated how the syntax of data.table, not unlike SQL, can produce shorter and more readable code that at the same time provides an efficient and fast way to analyse big in memory data sets with R. Arun presented on new developments in data.table 1.8.11, which not only fixes bugs but adds many new features such as melt/cast and further speed gains.

I said early that data.table rocks. For more details see the data.table home page.

Data design with R

Thomas Rahlf: Datendesign mit R

Thomas Rahlf talked about his forthcoming book Datendesign mit R (Data design with R). He shared with us his motivations and aims for the book. In his opinion there are many books that present beautiful charts and concepts (e.g. Tufte's books), but then don't show how they can be reproduced, as there are often done with software such as Adobe Illustrator. Or books explain the graphical functions of a software, yet fail to demonstrate how to create beautiful charts with them. Thus, Thomas' book will contain 100 examples demonstrating that desktop publishing quality charts can be produced with R and in some cases with the help of LaTeX. Indeed, all examples have about 40 lines of code and use the base R graphics system only and not grid or any add-ons such as lattice or ggplot2.

The book's accompanying web site gives you a taster already. The book itself will be published by Open Source Press next month.

The Schnitzel

Of course the evening ended with Schnitzel and Kölsch at the Lux.

The Luxus Schnitzel. Photo by Günter Faes

Next Kölner R meeting

The next meeting is scheduled for 26 February 2013 (Wednesday before Altweiber), with two talks by Diego de Castillo (Connecting R with databases) and Kim Kuen Tang (R and kdb+).

Please get in touch if you would like to present and share your experience, or indeed if you have a request for a topic you would like to hear more about. For more details see also our Meetup page.

Thanks again to Bernd Weiß for hosting the event and Revolution Analytics for their sponsorship.

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Next Kölner R User Meeting: 13 December 2013

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Quick reminder: The next Cologne R user group meeting is scheduled for this Friday, 13 December 2013. We are delighted to welcome:
Further details and the agenda are available on our KölnRUG Meetup site.

Please sign up if you would like to come along. Notes from past meetings are available here.

The organisers, Bernd Weiß and Markus Gesmann, gratefully acknowledge the sponsorship of Revolution Analytics, who support the Cologne R user group as part of their vector programme.

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R in Insurance Conference, London, 14 July 2014

Following the very positive feedback that Andreas and I have received from delegates of the first R in Insurance conference in July of this year, we are planning to repeat the event next year. We have already reserved a bigger auditorium.

The second conference on R in Insurance will be held on Monday 14 July 2014 at Cass Business School in London, UK.

This one-day conference will focus again on applications in insurance and actuarial science that use R, the lingua franca for statistical computation. Topics covered may include actuarial statistics, capital modelling, pricing, reserving, reinsurance and extreme events, portfolio allocation, advanced risk tools, high-performance computing, econometrics and more. All topics will be discussed within the context of using R as a primary tool for insurance risk management, analysis and modelling.

The intended audience of the conference includes both academics and practitioners who are active or interested in the applications of R in insurance.

Invited talks will be given by:
  • Arthur Charpentier, Département de mathématiques Université du Québec à Montréal
  • Montserrat Guillen, Dept. Econometrics University of Barcelona together with Leo Guelman, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC Insurance division)
The members of the scientific committee are: Katrien Antonio (University of Amsterdam and KU Leuven), Christophe Dutang (Université du Maine, France), Jens Nielsen (Cass), Andreas Tsanakas (Cass) and Markus Gesmann (ChainLadder project).

Details about the registration and abstract submission process will be published soon on

You can contact us via rinsuranceconference at gmail dot com.

The organisers, Andreas Tsanakas and Markus Gesmann, gratefully acknowledge the sponsorship of Mango Solutions, RStudio, Cybaea and PwC.


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