Beauty of New Zealand

Most people thinking about the beauty of New Zealand will obviously refer to many attractive natural sceneries such as Milford Sound, Bay of Islands, Tongariro National Park, and many others. Or they will probably mention some successful movies which was taken in New Zealand covering ‘The Lord of the Rings Trilogy’, ‘The Hobbit Trilogy’, ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’, ‘King Kong’, ‘The Last Samurai’ and so on. Those movies showed a lot of beautiful natural landscape throughout the whole stories. A country with only four million people also possess a beauty of anything else particularly in the education achievements.

The country should be proud by owning some top world-class universities. I can mention some of them like University of Auckland, University of Otago, University of Canterbury and many others. Thus, no wonder if they generate many world top scientists coming up with their phenomenal works. Here I want to discuss about three extraordinary statisticians or data scientists that have established impressive works, obviously they were born as New Zealanders.

Birth of R

First, I will absolutely mention duo professors coming from University of Auckland, Ross Ihaka and Robert Gentleman, that reinvented S language to be the most popular programming language for Data Science, that is R. Prior to R, the predecessor, S language, was invented by John Chamber and colleagues at AT&T Bell Labs in the late 70’s. Because of some perceived flaws in S and the need of a statistical software for teaching purposes, those two guys then created an open source implementation. This programming language looked much like S, but behaved much like scheme and they called it as R. The name was taken from the beginning letter from their both names. The first alpha version was launched in 1993, then became open source in 1995 and the most update version 3.2.5 has released in April 2016. Nowadays, R has evolved into a global project with a sophisticated management by R Development Core Team located in Vienna, Austria. R has totally revolutionised the way people analyse data and changed the nature of statistical computing. Each year, more and more packages implement more and more cutting edge research. This is better rather than other commercial statistical software such as SAS, Stata, SPSS and Minitab that need much more money and not as up-to-date as open source software like R. To some up, there are a lot of benefits coming from R to be used as a tool for Data Science.

Today, R becomes the fastest growing programming language for Data Science. According to survey from KDnuggets polls, it was almost a half of total respondents said that they often use R for data analysis purposes. Moreover, Stack Overflow questions tagged “R” was the highest one which reached the peak of 4,000 questions compare to another programming language such as “Python” or “Pandas”. Similarly, on the twitter activities, in particular, number of tweets tagged #rstats was totally far higher than #python, #numpy and others. This statistic is inseparable from the contribution of all R package developers. The number of packages registered in CRAN recently exceeds 9,067 R packages available in CRAN (Comprehensive R Archive Network), Bioconductor and GitHub by April 2016.

The Incredible RStudio

Here is the second thing which should be considered. There are many developers in R, but one of the most active and a prospective legend in the future that revolutionise R following his seniors, duo “R”, is named as Hadley Wickham. Undeniably, he came from University of Auckland, New Zealand. So, why would he be next legend? I might consider him too much as a legend, but many people also have the same perception with me. Now, he is a Chief Scientist of RStudio –the most popular Integrated Development Environment (IDE) of R. He and his team have invented many wonderful packages that made Data Science become easier. They created readr, lubridate, stringr, dplry and tidyr for data wrangling, ggplot2 and ggviz for data visualisation, knitr and rmarkdown for reporting and also devtools and packrat for package development and management. He is really productive and helps many Data Scientist around the world become easier to complete the data analysis. Now, we would wait for many other wonderful creation from him and his team.

In summary, those three men are the top names among Statisticians and Data Scientists in the world. Furthermore, they are all New Zealanders, thus this fact can lead to a question how New Zealand’s education environment can raise Statistics and Data Science experts like Ross Ihaka, Robert Gentleman, and Hadley Wickham. I would say this is another beauty of New Zealand. This thing must become encouragement to other nation to build good education of data analytics in order to generate a lot of expert Statisticians or Data Scientists. To deal with the digital era which always produce data in every second, it is absolutely needed Data Scientists that capable handling big data and have good understanding about the problem.

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