Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Joint statistical meetings 2010 - first half

The first part of the Joint statistical meetings for 2010 has come and gone, and so here are a few random thoughts on the conference. Keep in mind that I have a bias toward biostatistics, so your mileage may vary.

Vancouver is a beautiful city with great weather. I enjoy watching the sea planes take off and land, and the mountainous backdrop of the city is just gorgeous. Technology has been heavily embraced at least where the conference is located, and the diversity of the people served by the city is astounding. The convention center is certainly the swankiest I've ever been in.

The quality of the conference is certainly a lot higher than previous conferences I've been to, or perhaps I'm just better about selecting what to attend.

  • The ASA's session on strategic partnerships in academia, industry, and government (SPAIG) was not well-enough attended. I think these partnerships are going to be essential to the best way to conduct scientific research and the data analysis coming out of and going into that research. Presentations included reflections on the ASA's strategic plan from a past president, and efforts for the future coming from the incoming president-elect Bob Rodriguez. I wish everybody could have heard it.
  • The 4pm session on adaptive designs was very good. This important area (for which I enthusiastically evangelize to my company and clients) advances, and it is good to see some of the latest updates.
  • Another session I attended had a Matrix theme, in which we were encouraged to break out of a mind prison by reaching out to those in other disciplines and making our work more accessible. The session was packed, and it did not disappoint. It may seem like an obvious point, but it does not seem to be emphasized in education or even on the job.
  • Another session focused on segmenting patient populations for tailoring therapeutics. A lot of good work is going on in this area. We are not able to do personalized medicine yet despite the hype, but tailored therapeutics (i.e. tailoring for a subgroup) is an intermediate step that is happening today.
  • At the business meeting on statistical computing and graphics I meet some of my fellow tweeters. I am very pleased to make their acquaintance.

There are other themes too. R is still huge, and SAS is getting huger. This all came together in Jim Goodnight's talk on the importance of analytics and how the education system needs to support it. His tone seemed to exhibit a begrudging acceptance of R. (I'll get into philosophizing about SAS and R another time.) Revolution Analytics is addressing some of the serious issues with R, including high performance computing and big data, and this will be certainly something to follow.

Hopefully the second half will be as good as the first half.

Posted via email from Randomjohn's posterous