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In 2020 the EARL conference was held virtually due to the restrictions imposed by COVID-19. Although this removed the valuable networking element of the conference, the ‘VirtuEARL’ virtual approach meant we reached a geographically wider audience and ensured a successful conference. Thought leadership from academia and industry logged in to discover how R can be used in business, and over 300 data science professionals convened to join workshops or hear presenters share their novel and interesting applications of R. The flexibility of scheduling allowed talks to be picked according to personal or team interests.

The conference kicked off with workshops delivered by Mango data scientists and guest presenters, Max Kuhn of RStudio and Colin Fay from ThinkR, with topics including data visualisation, text analysis and modelling. The presentation day both began and finished with keynote presentations: Annarita Roscino from Zurich spoke about her journey from data practitioner to data & analytics leader – sharing key insights from her role as a Head of Predictive Analytics, and Max Kuhn from RStudio used his keynote to introduce tidymodels – a collection of packages for modelling and machine learning using tidyverse principles.

Between these great keynotes, EARL offered a further 11 presentations from across a range of industry sectors and topics. A snapshot of these shows just some of the ways that R is being used commercially: Eryk Walczak from the Bank of England revealed his use of text analysis in R to study financial regulations, Joe Fallon and Gavin Thompson from HMRC presented on their impressive work behind the Self Employment Income Support Scheme launched by the Government in response to the Covid-19 outbreak, Dr. Lisa Clarke from Virgin Media gave an insightful and inspiring talk on how to maximize an analytics team’s productivity, whilst Dave Goody, lead data scientist from the Department of Education, presented on using R shiny apps at scale across a team of 100 to drive operational decision making.

Long time EARL friend and aficionado, Jeremy Horne of DataCove, demonstrated how to build an engaging marketing campaign using R, and Dr Adriana De Palma from the Natural History Museum showed her use of R to predict biodiversity loss.

Charity donation 

Due to the reduced overheads of delivering the conference remotely in 2020, the Mango team decided to donate the profits of the 2020 EARL conference to Data for Black Lives. This is a great non-profit organization dedicated to using data science to create concrete and measurable improvements to the lives of Black people. They aim to use data science to fight bias, promote civic engagement and build progressive movements. We are thrilled to be able to donate just over £12,000 to this brilliant charity.

Whilst EARL 2020 was our first such virtual event, the conference was highly successful. Attendees described it as an “unintimidating and friendly conference,” with “high-quality presentations from experts in their respective fields” and were delighted to see how R and data science in general were being used commercially. One attendee best described the conference: “EARL goes beyond introducing new packages and educates attendees on how R is being used around the world to make difficult decisions”.

If you’d like to learn more about EARL 2020 or see the conference presentations in full, click here.

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It’s easy to get stuck in the day-to-day at the office and there’s never time to upskill or even think about career development. However, to really grow and develop your organisation, it’s important to grow and develop your team.

While there are many ways to develop teams, including training and providing time to complete personal (and relevant) projects, conferences provide a range of benefits.

Spark innovation
Some of the best in the business present their projects, ideas and solutions at EARL each year. It’s the perfect opportunity to see what’s trending and what’s really working. Topics at EARL Conferences have included, best practice SAS to R; Shiny applications; using social media data; web scraping, plus presentations on R in marketing, healthcare, finance, insurance and transport.

A cross-sector conference like EARL can help your organisation think outside the box because learnings are transferable, regardless of industry.

Imbue knowledge
This brings us to knowledge. Learning from the best in the business will help employees expand their knowledge base. This can keep them motivated and engaged in what they’re doing, and a wider knowledge base can also inform their everyday tasks enabling them to advance the way they do their job.

When employees feel like you want to invest in them, they stay engaged and are more likely to remain in the same organisation for longer.

Encourage networking
EARL attracts R users from all levels and industries and not just to speak. The agenda offers plenty of opportunities to network with some of the industry’s most engaged R users. This is beneficial for a number of reasons, including knowledge exchange and sharing your organisation’s values.

Boost inspiration
We often see delegates who have come to an EARL Conference with a specific business challenge in mind. By attending, they get access to the current innovations, knowledge and networking mentioned above, and can return to their team —post-conference— with a renewed vigour to solve those problems using their new-found knowledge.

Making the most out of attending EARL

After all of that, the next step is making sure your organisation makes the most out of attending EARL. We recommend:

Setting goals
Do you have a specific challenge you’re trying to solve in your organisation? Going with a set challenge in mind means your team can plan which sessions to sit in and who they should talk to during the networking sessions.

De-briefing
This is two-fold:
1) Writing a post-conference report will help your team put what they have learnt at EARL into action.
2) Not everyone can attend, so those who do can share their new-found knowledge with their peers who can learn second-hand from their colleague’s experience.

Following up
We’re all guilty of going to a conference, coming back inspired and then getting lost in the day-to-day. Assuming you’ve set goals and de-briefed, it should be easy to develop a follow-up plan.

You can make the most of inspired team members to put in place new strategies, technologies and innovations through further training, contact follow-ups and new procedure development.

EARL Conference can offer a deal for organisations looking to send more than 5 delegates.

Buy tickets now

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I always find it difficult to pick highlights from a conference and the eRum 2018 team did a fantastic job of making it difficult for me once again, so here goes…

Day One

The first day offered a huge choice in workshops, but teaching one of them meant we didn’t make it to any of the others. However, everyone we spoke to had great things to say about them all. In fact, we were overwhelmed by the turnout for our own workshop on the keras package (and we have to give a shout out to Mark Sellors for setting up and monitoring the server for us). By the way, if you missed out, you can sign up for the workshop at EARL London in September.

Day Two

Tuesday might have been a rainy start outside but inside we were mesmerised by the transparent roof in the Akvarium Klub. For team Mango, the morning mostly involved cat restocking, so we were really grateful for the live streaming that enabled us to keep up with everything going on in the main room.

My favourite presentations included:

Having newly been introduced to the recipes package I particularly enjoyed seeing Edwin Thoen talk about how to add your own data preparation steps and checks.

Olga Mierzwa-Sulima presented six packages to add functionality to shiny apps. These cover UI aspects like using semantic elements in shiny or easily exchanging themes for the app as well as user management aspects like authentication and controlling the level of access for different users. She also covered additional functionality like making routing possible with shiny and building multi-language apps.

Jeroen Ooms spoke about using Rust code in R packages. Rust is a new system programming language and can be an alternative to C/C++. Jeroen mentioned several advantages including Rust being memory safe and as fast as C/C++ while being far safer. It ships with a native package manager (cargo) and does not need a runtime library which means that the binary (R) package does not depend on Rust or cargo. He stressed that it’s easy to wrap Rust libraries into R packages so hopefully soon the selection of tools available from R will be even more varied.

A particular highlight for Doug Ashton came on Tuesday afternoon with three complementary talks on machine learning. With all the buzz to deal with in the ML world right now, Doug thought the practical talks from three level-headed practioners were very useful:

First Erin LeDell, Chief Machine Learning Scientist at h2o, gave an excellent talk on their automl package – a system they’ve been working hard on to run several different algorithms and select the best. Doug’s favourite part was their automated model ensembling (aka model stacking) that provides the best mix of all the algorithms.

Szilárd Pafka, Chief Scientist at Epoch followed on with a presentation on the provactively titled “Better than deep learning: Gradient Boosted Machines in R”, where he talked about why the majority of ML problems he sees are not best suited for deep learning. Szilárd also gave a nice overview of the best performing algorithms for gbm. (Doug’s note to self was to check out Microsoft’s lightgbm and xgboost with gpu.)


Going back to the theme of automation Andrie de Vries, Solutions Engineer at RStudio, took us through how to tune your tensorflow models using the tfruns package to run grid/random search over the hyperparameter space. This is very timely as we are often asked about how to select the right network topology and until now we’ve largely hand-tuned. Andrie then took us through an example where deep learning certainly is the right choice—image/pattern recognition with convolutional neural nets (CNNs)—and taking our example from the keras workshop significantly improved the accuracy with automated tuning – 👏.

After the rainy to start the day we were all relieved to see it had cleared up by the time the evening event (a river cruise) came around – we were lucky to have stunning views of Budapest from the Danube; the sunset on the Parliament building with stormy skies overhead was incredible.

Day Three

On Wednesday morning Roger Bivand did a great job of talking us all through some of the very important history of R – you all knew “_” was once an assignment operator, right?

RStudio’s Barbara Borges Ribeiro showed off a cool shiny app for drilling down into data and making use of the dynamic insertion of UI. Unfortunately I missed her talk, but managed to get a demo of it later in the day – you can take a look at the app on GitHub.

The biggest highlight for me though were the people. Without a doubt it was one of the friendliest conferences I have attended. Everyone was happy to share their experiences, answer your questions and point you in the direction of tools to look at later. Importantly, everyone was made to feel welcome, from the most-experienced to the newest R users.

The videos from all talks are being made available, check the conference homepage for the link.

Congratulations to the whole organising committee, led by Gergely Daroczi, for putting on such a great event. Mango are certainly looking forward to the next eRum conference!

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We’re delighted to announce RStudio’s Garrett Grolemund as one of our Keynote Speakers at this year’s EARL London.

He will join Starcount’s Edwina Dunn and a whole host of brilliant speakers for the 5th EARL London Conference on 11-13 September at The Tower Hotel.

Garrett specialises in teaching people how to use R, which is why you’ll see his name on some brilliant resources, including video courses on Datacamp.com and O’Reilly media, his series of popular R cheat sheets distributed by RStudio, and as co-author of R for Data Science and Hands-On Programming with R. He also wrote the lubridate R package and works for RStudio as an advocate who trains engineers to do data science with R and the Tidyverse.

He earned his Phd in Statistics from Rice University in 2012 under the guidance of Hadley Wickham. Before that, he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Harvard University and briefly attended law school before wising up.

Garrett is one of the foremost promoters of Shiny, R Markdown, and the Tidyverse, so we’re really looking forward to his keynote.

Don’t miss out on early bird tickets

Early bird tickets for all EARL Conferences are now available:
London: 11-13 September
Seattle: 7 November
Houston: 9 November
Boston: 13 November

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We are excited to announce the speakers for this year’s EARL London Conference!

Every year, we receive an immense number of excellent abstracts and this year was no different – in fact, it’s getting harder to decide. We spent a lot of time deliberating and had to make some tough choices. We would like to thank everyone who submitted a talk – we appreciate the time taken to write and submit; if we could accept every talk, we would.

This year, we have a brilliant lineup, including speakers from Auto Trader, Marks and Spencer, Aviva, Hotels.com, Google, Ministry of Defence and KPMG. Take a look below at our illustrious list of speakers:

Full length talks
Abigail Lebrecht, Abigail Lebrecht Consulting
Alex Lewis, Africa’s Voices Foundation
Alexis Iglauer, PartnerRe
Amanda Lee, Merkle Aquila
Andrie de Vries, RStudio
Catherine Leigh, Auto Trader
Catherine Gamble, Marks and Spencer
Chris Chapman, Google
Chris Billingham, N Brown PLC
Christian Moroy, Edge Health
Christoph Bodner, Austrian Post
Dan Erben, Dyson
David Smith, Microsoft
Douglas Ashton, Mango Solutions
Dzidas Martinaitis, Amazon Web Services
Emil Lykke Jensen, MediaLytic
Gavin Jackson, Screwfix
Ian Jacob, HCD Economics
James Lawrence, The Behavioural Insights Team
Jeremy Horne, MC&C Media
Jobst Löffler, Bayer Business Services GmbH
Jo-fai Chow, H2O.ai
Jonathan Ng, HSBC
Kasia Kulma, Aviva
Leanne Fitzpatrick, Hello Soda
Lydon Palmer, Investec
Matt Dray, Department for Education
Michael Maguire, Tusk Therapeutics
Omayma Said, WUZZUF
Paul Swiontkowski, Microsoft
Sam Tazzyman, Ministry of Justice
Scott Finnie, Hymans Robertson
Sean Lopp, RStudio
Sima Reichenbach, KPMG
Steffen Bank, Ekstra Bladet
Taisiya Merkulova, Photobox
Tim Paulden, ATASS Sports
Tomas Westlake, Ministry Of Defence
Victory Idowu, Aviva
Willem Ligtenberg, CZ

Lightning Talks
Agnes Salanki, Hotels.com
Andreas Wittmann, MAN Truck & Bus AG
Ansgar Wenzel, Qbiz UK
George Cushen, Shop Direct
Jasmine Pengelly, DAZN
Matthias Trampisch, Boehringer Ingelheim
Mike K Smith, Pfizer
Patrik Punco, NOZ Medien
Robin Penfold, Willis Towers Watson

Some numbers

We thought we would share some stats from this year’s submission process:


This is based on a combination of titles, photos and pronouns.

Agenda

We’re still putting the agenda together, so keep an eye out for that announcement!

Tickets

Early bird tickets are available until 31 July 2018, get yours now.

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After the success of rstudio::conf 2017 this year the conference was back and bigger and better than ever with 1000+ attendees in sunny San Diego. Since the conference, my colleagues and I have been putting the techniques we learned into practice (which is totally why you’re only seeing this blog post now!).

Day 1 – shiny stole the show

The first stream was all things Shiny. With all the hype surrounding Shiny in the past few years, it didn’t disappoint. Joe Cheng spoke at the EARL London Conference in September last year about the exciting new feature allowing users to take advantage of asynchronous programming within Shiny applications through the use of the promises package. It was great to see a live demo of how this new feature can be utilised to scale Shiny apps and reduce wait time. The JavaScript inspired promises are not just Shiny specific and Joe is hoping to release the package on CRAN soon. In the meantime you can check out the package here.

At mango we’re already excited to start streamlining existing and future customer applications using promises. From a business point of view, it’s going to allow us to build more efficient and complex applications.

Straight after Joe was RStudio’s Winston Chang. Winston gave another great demo – this time showing the new features of the shinytest package. As well as improved user interaction, compared to previous shinytestversions, Winston demonstrated the latest snapshot comparison feature. This allows users to compare snapshots side by side when re-running tests and interactively dragging images to compare between them.

This is another potentially exciting breakthrough in the world of Shiny. Testing user interface components of a Shiny app has historically been a manual process, so formalising this process with shinytest will hopefully provide the framework to take proof of concept applications into a validated production ready state. You can check out the latest version here.

We were also excited to hear RStudio have built their own load testing tools which they’ll make available for us as well. Traditional tools for load testing often are incompatible with Shiny apps. RStudio’s main goals were to create something that’s easy to use, can simulate large number of users, and can work well with Shiny apps. It has multiple features in its workflow, such as recording, playback, and result analysis, and we envisage it enabling our customers to get really in-depth metrics on their Shiny apps.

Day 2 – machine learning

Aside from Shiny, a main theme of the conference was undoubtedly machine learning.

Day 2 kicked off with a key note from J.J Allaire, RStudio’s CEO. J.J’s presentation “Machine Learning with R and TensorFlow” was a fantastic insight into how RStudio have been busy in the past year making TensorFlow’s numerical computing library available to the R community. The keras package opens up the whole TensorFlow functionality for easy use in R, without the need to learn Python. It was great to hear TensorFlow explained in such a clear way and has already sparked interest and demand at Mango for our new “Deep Learning with keras in R” course (which, you can attend if you sign up for the EARL London Conference _hint hint)).

The interop stream gave us an insight into the leading technologies integrating with and exciting the world of R. With TensorFlow and Keras being machine learning buzz words at the moment, Javier Luraschi explained how to deploy TensorFlow models for fast evaluation and export using the tfdeploy package. He also highlighted integration with other technologies, such as cloudml and rsconnecthttps://github.com/riga/tfdeploy

Next year the conference has already been announced to run in Austin, Texas. Workshop materials and slides from this year’s conference can be found here.

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We told you EARL 2018 was going to be awesome!

We’re excited to announce that Hadley Wickham will be the Keynote Speaker at our EARL Houston event on 9 November 2018.

Technically, we think Hadley needs no introduction, but just in case…

Hadley is Chief Scientist at RStudio, the company that created the most-used IDE for businesses and individuals using R around the world. He is interested in building computational and cognitive tools that make data ingest, manipulation, visualisation and analysis easier, particularly via the more than 30 R packages he has developed. He also leads the team that creates and maintains the widely used ‘tidyverse’, which contains some of the most popular packages in the R community.

An encouraging and supportive member of the R community, Hadley is well-known for his deep insight and willingness to answer questions and share his knowledge, authoring a number of books and online resources. While the topic of his talk will be a surprise, we know delegates will come away from his session with plenty to think about.

Take the stage with Hadley

Abstract submissions are open for both the US Roadshow in November and London in September. You could be on the agenda with Hadley in Houston as one of our speakers if you would like to share the R successes in your organisation.

Submit your abstract here.

Early bird tickets now available

Tickets for all EARL Conferences are now available:
London: 11-13 September
Seattle: 7 November
Houston: 9 November
Boston: 13 November

ANNOUNCEMENT: EARL London 2018 + abstract submissions open!
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MEDIA RELEASE

14 February 2018

Mango Solutions are delighted to announce that loyalty programme pioneer and data science innovator, Edwina Dunn, will keynote at the 2018 Enterprise Applications of the R Language (EARL) Conference in London on 11-13 September.

Mango Solutions’ Chief Data Scientist, Richard Pugh, has said that it is a privilege to have Ms Dunn address Conference delegates.

“Edwina helped to change the data landscape on a global scale while at dunnhumby; Tesco’s Clubcard, My Kroger Plus and other loyalty programmes have paved the way for data-driven decision making in retail,” Mr Pugh said.

“Having Edwina at EARL this year is a win for delegates, who attend the Conference to find inspiration in their use of analytics and data science using the R Language.

“In this centenary year of the 1918 Suffrage act, Edwina’s participation is especially appropriate, as she is the founder of The Female Lead, a non-profit organization dedicated to giving women a platform to share their inspirational stories,” he said.

Ms Dunn is currently CEO at Starcount, a consumer insights company that combines the science of purchase and intent and brings the voice of the customer into the boardroom.

The EARL Conference is a cross-sector conference focusing on the commercial use of the R programming language with presentations from some of the world’s leading practitioners.

More information and tickets are available on the EARL Conference website: earlconf.com

END

For more information, please contact:
Karis Bouher, Marketing Manager: marketing@mango-solutions.com or +44 (0)1249 705 450

EARL Seattle Keynote Speaker Announcement: Julia Silge
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We’re delighted to announce that Julia Silge will be joining us on 7 November in Seattle as our Keynote speaker.

Julia is a Data Scientist at Stack Overflow, has a PhD in astrophysics and an abiding love for Jane Austen (which we totally understand!). Before moving into Data Science and discovering R, Julia worked in academia and ed tech, and was a NASA Datanaut. She enjoys making beautiful charts, programming in R, text mining, and communicating about technical topics with diverse audiences. In fact, she loves R and text mining so much, she literally wrote the book on it: Text Mining with R: A Tidy Approach!

We can’t wait to see what Julia has to say in November.

Submit an abstract

Abstract submissions are open for both the US Roadshow in November and London in September. You could be on the agenda with Julia in Seattle as one of our speakers if you would like to share the R successes in your organisation.

Submit your abstract here.

Early bird tickets now available

Tickets for all EARL Conferences are now available:
London: 11-13 September
Seattle: 7 November
Houston: 9 November
Boston: 13 November

The EARLy career scholarship
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At Mango, we’re passionate about R and promoting its use in enterprise – it’s why we created the EARL Conferences. We understand the importance of sharing knowledge to generate new ideas and change the way organisations use R for the better.

This year we are on a mission to actively encourage the attendance of R users who are either in a very early stage of their career or are finishing their academic studies and looking at employment options.

We’re offering EARLy career R users a chance to come to EARL – we have a number of 2-day conference passes for EARL London and tickets for each 1-day event in the US. This year’s dates are:
London, 12-13 September
Seattle, 7 November
Houston, 9 November
Boston, 13 November

Who can apply?

  • Anyone in their first year of employment
  • Anyone doing an internship or work placement
  • Anyone who has recently finished – or will soon be finishing – their academic studies and is actively pursuing a career in Analytics

To apply for a free EARLy Career ticket, tell us why you would like to attend an EARL Conference and how attending will help you advance your knowledge and your career.

(Minimum 200 words, maximum 500 words)

Submit your response here.

Terms and conditions: ‘Winners’ will receive tickets for any EARL Conference of their choice. This does not include travel or accommodation. The tickets are non-transferable. The tickets cannot be exchanged for cash.