Intro to R and New Ideas by Stan Schwertly featuring Joe Mora

pie chart with open mic information
Pie chart generated by R, using information collected from CraigsList

Stan Schwertly presented an introduction to the R programming language this week. R is used in statistics and mathematical applications, and can be useful for a variety of problems. The discussion reviewed reading in a comma-separated values file and interpreting the data with R. Input/Output into different file formats were covered, including exporting a graph to file in 4 lines of code.

Finally, a hypothetical use-case involving the data being collected by the system described by Stan in the first set of lightning talks was described (and later put into action.) The graph displayed at the top is automatically generated by R each night through cron. First a cronjob dumps the MySQL table to CSV including column names. Afterward, R picks up the file and creates the graph. Since MySQL is unable to overwrite files, a cron’ed “rm -f” job eliminates the old CSV file.

Joe Mora was able to attend this talk and prompted the second half of discussion, which was centered around the question, “Where do new project ideas come from?” The group talked about the starting place for new ideas, and where the first inspiration to begin programming starts from. We also discussed how one goes from liking basic things like video games to data structures and more advanced computer science topics.

Some of the members present were in the same class group for the “Software & Security Engineering” class and explained the current project: integrating historical data with Google Maps.

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