R Users DC (RUDC) becomes Statistical Programming DC (SPDC)

Three years ago, in March of 2010, I (Marck Vaisman) volunteered to lead and organize the DC area R meetup group (RUDC). Little did I know the growth the group would have over the course of three years. We started small, meeting in Rockville in a small conference room at Rockville’s Economic Development Office . Our first meetings were quite small, and provided an intimate venue for learning and discussing many things about R. One of our earliest meetings lasted three hours and there were only about 8 of us in attendance; however, Pawel Gajer’s presentation about his research and awesome visualizations was so fascinating that he kept on talking  and we just kept on listening.
In 2011, we started having our meetings in DC, hosted by up and coming local companies such as LivingSocial and OPOWER and the membership began increasing much faster. In the summer of 2011, we spun off Data Science DC  (DSDC). In 2012, we kept on growing at a faster rate, were hosted by HelloWallet and The Washington Post, and we reached the 1,000 member milestone at the beginning of 2013. The chart below (ggplot, of course) shows the growth of the group over time:


Now, RUDC is a part of Data Community DC, and part of a growing and thriving community in the DC area. As our membership keeps growing through DC2, so does the diversity of the meetup attendees. If you look at the meetup membership demographic information, especially the answer to the question “What other tools do you use?”, you will see the other popular tools that people use when working with and analyzing data. These usual suspects  include Python, MATLAB, SQL, Julia, Stata, SAS, and yes, even Excel (gasp!) As such, we have decided to expand the scope of the meetup group to include talks about these tools as well. While DSDC focuses on higher level topics (algorithms, techniques, policies, etc.), Statistical Programming DC (SPDC) now focuses on the implementation of such algorithms and techniques using R and the other languages mentioned above.
We have been considering this expansion for some time, and discussed the pros and the cons amongst the DC2 board members. The survey we conducted earlier this year showed a 50-50 split between expanding and not expanding the group. However, as most of us are practicing Data Scientists, the reality is that we use multiple tools to get the job done and we felt that the community is best served by expanding the focus into “Statistical Programming”. Our plan is to continue to be heavily R focused, but also have talks, workshops, tutorials, etc. about other tools as well. Don’t worry, each Meetup event will clearly indicate which tools will be discussed.
So, in summary, we are very excited about this change and hope that you will be as well. We will be updating the meetup site with the new name soon, and are in the process of planning our SPDC kickoff event, something along the lines of an R vs. Python smack down! Please get involved and send us a note if you’d like to talk.

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Marck Vaisman

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