`R`

is a very fluid language amenable to meta-programming, or alterations of the language itself. This has allowed the late user-driven introduction of a number of powerful features such as magrittr pipes, the foreach system, futures, data.table, and dplyr. Please read on for some small meta-programming effects we have been experimenting with.

# Category: Tutorials

## Encoding categorical variables: one-hot and beyond

## (or: how to correctly use `xgboost`

from `R`

)

`R`

has "one-hot" encoding hidden in most of its modeling paths. Asking an `R`

user where one-hot encoding is used is like asking a fish where there is water; they can’t point to it as it is everywhere.

For example we can see evidence of one-hot encoding in the variable names chosen by a linear regression:

```
dTrain <- data.frame(x= c('a','b','b', 'c'),
y= c(1, 2, 1, 2))
summary(lm(y~x, data= dTrain))
```

```
##
## Call:
## lm(formula = y ~ x, data = dTrain)
##
## Residuals:
## 1 2 3 4
## -2.914e-16 5.000e-01 -5.000e-01 2.637e-16
##
## Coefficients:
## Estimate Std. Error t value Pr(>|t|)
## (Intercept) 1.0000 0.7071 1.414 0.392
## xb 0.5000 0.8660 0.577 0.667
## xc 1.0000 1.0000 1.000 0.500
##
## Residual standard error: 0.7071 on 1 degrees of freedom
## Multiple R-squared: 0.5, Adjusted R-squared: -0.5
## F-statistic: 0.5 on 2 and 1 DF, p-value: 0.7071
```

Continue reading Encoding categorical variables: one-hot and beyond

## Teaching pivot / un-pivot

## Authors: John Mount and Nina Zumel

## Introduction

In teaching thinking in terms of coordinatized data we find the hardest operations to teach are joins and pivot.

One thing we commented on is that moving data values into columns, or into a “thin” or entity/attribute/value form (often called “un-pivoting”, “stacking”, “melting” or “gathering“) is easy to explain, as the operation is a function that takes a single row and builds groups of new rows in an obvious manner. We commented that the inverse operation of moving data into rows, or the “widening” operation (often called “pivoting”, “unstacking”, “casting”, or “spreading”) is harder to explain as it takes a specific group of columns and maps them back to a single row. However, if we take extra care and factor the pivot operation into its essential operations we find pivoting can be usefully conceptualized as a simple single row to single row mapping followed by a grouped aggregation.

Please read on for our thoughts on teaching pivoting data. Continue reading Teaching pivot / un-pivot

## Coordinatized Data: A Fluid Data Specification

## Authors: John Mount and Nina Zumel.

## Introduction

It has been our experience when teaching the data wrangling part of data science that students often have difficulty understanding the conversion to and from row-oriented and column-oriented data formats (what is commonly called pivoting and un-pivoting).

Real trust and understanding of this concept doesn’t fully form until one realizes that rows and columns are *inessential* implementation details when *reasoning* about your data. Many *algorithms* are sensitive to how data is arranged in rows and columns, so there is a need to convert between representations. However, confusing representation with semantics slows down understanding.

In this article we will try to separate representation from semantics. We will advocate for thinking in terms of *coordinatized data*, and demonstrate advanced data wrangling in `R`

.

Continue reading Coordinatized Data: A Fluid Data Specification

## Debugging Pipelines in R with Bizarro Pipe and Eager Assignment

This is a note on debugging `magrittr`

pipelines in `R`

using Bizarro Pipe and eager assignment.

## New screencast: using R and RStudio to install and experiment with Apache Spark

I have new short screencast up: using R and RStudio to install and experiment with Apache Spark.

More material from my recent Strata workshop Modeling big data with R, sparklyr, and Apache Spark can be found here.

## Step-Debugging magrittr/dplyr Pipelines in R with wrapr and replyr

In this screencast we demonstrate how to easily and effectively step-debug magrittr/dplyr pipelines in R using wrapr and replyr.

## vtreat: prepare data

## Iteration and closures in R

I recently read an interesting thread on unexpected behavior in `R`

when creating a list of functions in a loop or iteration. The issue is solved, but I am going to take the liberty to try and re-state and slow down the discussion of the problem (and fix) for clarity.

The issue is: are references or values captured during iteration?

Many users expect values to be captured. Most programming language implementations capture variables or references (leading to strange aliasing issues). It is confusing (especially in R, which pushes so far in the direction of value oriented semantics) and best demonstrated with concrete examples.

Please read on for a some of the history and future of this issue. Continue reading Iteration and closures in R

## The Zero Bug

I am going to write about an insidious statistical, data analysis, and presentation fallacy I call “the zero bug” and the habits you need to cultivate to avoid it.

The zero bug

Here is the zero bug in a nutshell: common data aggregation tools often can not “count to zero” from examples, and this causes problems. Please read on for what this means, the consequences, and how to avoid the problem. Continue reading The Zero Bug