Posted on Categories Administrativia, Practical Data Science, Pragmatic Data Science, Pragmatic Machine Learning, ProgrammingTags , , , Leave a comment on Big News: Porting vtreat to Python

Big News: Porting vtreat to Python

We at Win-Vector LLC have some big news.

We are finally porting a streamlined version of our R vtreat variable preparation package to Python.

vtreat is a great system for preparing messy data for supervised machine learning.

The new implementation is based on Pandas, and we are experimenting with pushing the sklearn.pipeline.Pipeline APIs to their limit. In particular we have found the .fit_transform() pattern is a great way to express building up a cross-frame to avoid nested model bias (in this case .fit_transform() != .fit().transform()). There is a bit of difference in how object oriented APIs compose versus how functional APIs compose. We are making an effort to research how to make this an advantage, and not a liability.

The new repository is here. And we have a non-trivial worked classification example. Next up is multinomial classification. After that a few validation suites to prove the two vtreat systems work similarly. And then we have some exciting new capabilities.

The first application is going to be a shortening and streamlining of our current 4 day data science in Python course (while allowing more concrete examples!).

This also means data scientists who use both R and Python will have a few more tools that present similarly in each language.

Posted on Categories Opinion, Programming, TutorialsTags , 11 Comments on Programming Over lm() in R

Programming Over lm() in R

Here is simple modeling problem in R.

We want to fit a linear model where the names of the data columns carrying the outcome to predict (y), the explanatory variables (x1, x2), and per-example row weights (wt) are given to us as string values in variables.

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Posted on Categories Programming, TutorialsTags , , ,

Piping is Method Chaining

What R users now call piping, popularized by Stefan Milton Bache and Hadley Wickham, is inline function application (this is notationally similar to, but distinct from the powerful interprocess communication and concurrency tool introduced to Unix by Douglas McIlroy in 1973). In object oriented languages this sort of notation for function application has been called “method chaining” since the days of Smalltalk (~1972). Let’s take a look at method chaining in Python, in terms of pipe notation.

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Posted on Categories Opinion, ProgrammingTags , ,

Why RcppDynProg is Written in C++

The (matter of opinion) claim:

“When the use of C++ is very limited and easy to avoid, perhaps it is the best option to do that […]”

(source discussed here)

got me thinking: does our own RcppDynProg package actually use C++ in a significant way? Could/should I port it to C? Am I informed enough to use something as complicated as C++ correctly?

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Posted on Categories Opinion, Programming, TutorialsTags , , 2 Comments on Standard Evaluation Versus Non-Standard Evaluation in R

Standard Evaluation Versus Non-Standard Evaluation in R

There is a lot of unnecessary worry over “Non Standard Evaluation” (NSE) in R versus “Standard Evaluation” (SE, or standard “variables names refer to values” evaluation). This very author is guilty of over-discussing the issue. But let’s give this yet another try.

The entire difference between NSE and regular evaluation can be summed up in the following simple table (which should be clear after we work some examples).

Tbl

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Posted on Categories Pragmatic Data Science, Programming, TutorialsTags , , 5 Comments on Tidyverse users: gather/spread are on the way out

Tidyverse users: gather/spread are on the way out

From https://twitter.com/sharon000/status/1107771331012108288:

NewImage

From https://tidyr.tidyverse.org/dev/articles/pivot.html (text by Hadley Wickham):

For some time, it’s been obvious that there is something fundamentally wrong with the design of spread() and gather(). Many people don’t find the names intuitive and find it hard to remember which direction corresponds to spreading and which to gathering. It also seems surprisingly hard to remember the arguments to these functions, meaning that many people (including me!) have to consult the documentation every time.

There are two important new features inspired by other R packages that have been advancing of reshaping in R:

  • The reshaping operation can be specified with a data frame that describes precisely how metadata stored in column names becomes data variables (and vice versa). This is inspired by the cdata package by John Mount and Nina Zumel. For simple uses of pivot_long() and pivot_wide(), this specification is implicit, but for more complex cases it is useful to make it explicit, and operate on the specification data frame using dplyr and tidyr.
  • pivot_long() can work with multiple value variables that may have different types. This is inspired by the enhanced melt() and dcast() functions provided by the data.table package by Matt Dowle and Arun Srinivasan.

If you want to work in the above way we suggest giving our cdata package a try. We named the functions pivot_to_rowrecs and unpivot_to_blocks. The idea was: by emphasizing the record structure one might eventually internalize what the transforms are doing. On the way to that we have a lot of documentation and tutorials.

Posted on Categories Opinion, Programming, TutorialsTags , , 4 Comments on Quantifying R Package Dependency Risk

Quantifying R Package Dependency Risk

We recently commented on excess package dependencies as representing risk in the R package ecosystem.

The question remains: how much risk? Is low dependency a mere talisman, or is there evidence it is a good practice (or at least correlates with other good practices)?

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Posted on Categories Opinion, ProgrammingTags , , ,

wrapr::let()

I would like to once again recommend our readers to our note on wrapr::let(), an R function that can help you eliminate many problematic NSE (non-standard evaluation) interfaces (and their associate problems) from your R programming tasks.

The idea is to imitate the following lambda-calculus idea:


let x be y in z := ( λ x . z ) y

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Posted on Categories Opinion, Programming, TutorialsTags 4 Comments on Software Dependencies and Risk

Software Dependencies and Risk

Dirk Eddelbuettel just shared an important point on software and analyses: dependencies are hard to manage risks.

If your software or research depends on many complex and changing packages, you have no way to establish your work is correct. This is because to establish the correctness of your work, you would need to also establish the correctness of all of the dependencies. This is worse than having non-reproducible research, as your work may have in fact been wrong even the first time.

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Posted on Categories Opinion, Programming, TutorialsTags , , , 2 Comments on Unit Tests in R

Unit Tests in R

I am collecting here some notes on testing in R.

There seems to be a general (false) impression among non R-core developers that to run tests, R package developers need a test management system such as RUnit or testthat. And a further false impression that testthat is the only R test management system. This is in fact not true, as R itself has a capable testing facility in "R CMD check" (a command triggering R checks from outside of any given integrated development environment).

By a combination of skimming the R-manuals ( https://cran.r-project.org/manuals.html ) and running a few experiments I came up with a description of how R-testing actually works. And I have adapted the available tools to fit my current preferred workflow. This may not be your preferred workflow, but I have and give my reasons below.

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