TokyoR #71

by Joseph Rickert

Last month, I was delighted to be invited to speak, along with Hadley Wickham, at the seventy-first meeting of the TokyoR user group in Tokyo, Japan. This day-long mini-conference attracted more than 200 attendees and featured 16 talks that covered a wide range of topics, including two near-real-time analyses of World Cup Soccer games (here and here) and an analysis of wind direction with circular data and autogressive processes (here). The tone of the talks ranged from light-hearted to business-serious. The slides for most of the presentations can be found here. If you scan through these slides, I think you will enjoy the contemporary Japanese aesthetics evident in the color palettes and playful composition of many of the presentations as well as the technical content.

In addition to the technical content, TokyoR was informative in at least three other areas. First of all, conference talks provided some insight into the country-wide R community. I have been doing my best to follow R user groups around the world for several years now, and have been tracking groups in Japan. Nevertheless, it is difficult to get a feel for what is really happening on the ground remotely. In his presentation, the Landscape with R – Japanese Rnd. Community, TokyoR organizer Koki Mimura did a great job of presenting the big picture of R in Japan. His talk indicated the breadth of established R user groups in Japan and described something of the evolution of the TokyoR group.

A second surprise was to discover that quite a few R books have been published in Japanese. “Recommendation of Reproducibility - Data Analysis and Making a Report using RStudio” by Ishida Motohiro(石田 基広) and Kohske Takahashi(高橋 康介) is one prominent recent example.

You can find this and several more Japanese R and data sceince books by entering Ishida-san’s name, 石田 基広, into

(As good as Google Translate is, the consequences of having to rely on it are frustrating and occasionally amusing. Entering the book information とある弁当屋の統計技師(データサイエンティスト) ―データ分析のはじめかた― 単行本 – 2013/9/25 ino Google Translate indicates that a literal translation of the Japanese phrase used to render the concept “data scientist” is “ceremonial statistical technician”. )

I was also very pleased to see that the TokyoR attendees seemed to reflect the diverse background and occupations of R users that one sees world-wide. The business cards I collected included several entrepreneurs, data scientists, software developers, management consultants, a marketing executive from the daily newspaper Asahi Shimbum, an editor from O’Reilly, a scientist from the National Museum of Nature and Science, and at least one researcher from the Department of Musical Creativity and Environment at Tokyo University of the Arts. These diverse roles and backgrounds indicate the great strength and flexibility of the R Community, and, I believe, ensure the continued growth of the R language.

Finally, I would like to thank the TokyoR organizers and participants alike for their gracious hospitality. This was just a fine group of people to hang out with.

Note, for more insight into the technical content discussed at TokyoR, Koki Mimura has made the slides of presentations he has delivered over the years available here. Many of these are not only technically compelling, but splendid in their presentation.

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