Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Statistics Programs

On the heels of news that mathematicians have the best jobs, there is a good front page article in the business section of the NYT about R. R is an open source statistics package that is most famous for its graphics capabilities. You can do the same things with other programs, but not nearly as easily. The Harvard Government dept has its students learn R and Latex and you can read more about their recommendations at the Social Science Statistics Blog (SSSB). The easier option is to learn Stata and Word. That's what I use and its what we are taught at GMU, both in the School of Public Policy and in the Econ dept. It's become the standard choice for microeconometrics.

One small complaint is that the Times article downplays the importance of SAS. Even in departments where R is popular, like public health, the epi folks still load all their data with SAS and do basic data manipulation before imputing it into R. I frequently do the same if the data cannot be easily transferred using StatTransfer. All told though, it's interesting how fast adoption of the program has been.

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