FEB 25, 2009 4:47am ET

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Biostatistics, Open Source and BI – an Interview with Frank Harrell

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I hadn’t corresponded with Frank Harrell in about six months, but had to ping him after his pithy forum response to the article on R in the NY Times. Begrudging the meteoric rise in open source R’s popularity, a VP from proprietary statistical software market leader SAS noted: “I think it addresses a niche market for high-end data analysts that want free, readily available code … We have customers who build engines for aircraft. I am happy they are not using freeware when I get on a jet.” To which Frank deadpanned: “It’s interesting that SAS Institute feels that non-peer-reviewed software with hidden implementations of analytic methods that cannot be reproduced by others should be trusted when building aircraft engines.” Touché.

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