Friday, October 28, 2011

Technology that I Love

I'm currently writing a paper with Sweave, which is a mash-up between R and LaTeX.

Love, love, love, love, love it.

If I take the dataset on which the paper is based and update it with new data, when I click Typeset, magic happens. All of the analyses are re-done. All of the figures and tables are re-generated. All of the relevant numbers in the text are updated. It's awesome.

This was particularly useful yesterday. One of my bosses said that I should use nine months worth of logs when analyzing the system. Upon seeing a draft of the paper, the other boss said that we should use a full year worth of logs. All I had to do was switch out the spreadsheet of log data and recompile. And everything was updated to use the other data.

Were I still teaching calculus, I'd use this as the next generation of my grade report software. Not only could I provide the students with their grades, but I could generate graphs on the fly showing how their performance has changed over the course of the semester. Maybe I'll see if I can give a talk in the math department's teaching seminar about this.