The R Consortium recently had the opportunity to talk to Isidro Hidalgo Arellano and Gema Fernández-Avilés Calderón of the R Quixote user group in Spain. They discussed the R for Business, Teaching, and Research Conference (R4EDI) organized by the group annually. The conference acts as a bridge between students, researchers, and industry in Castilla-La Mancha. Each year, the group invites prominent data scientists from all over Spain to speak at the conference.
The group is also writing a book titled Fundamentals of Data Science with R in Spanish. The book is being written by experts from a diverse range of backgrounds to provide a comprehensive learning resource for Spanish R users.
Please tell us a little bit about your R User Group.
Gema: We are a relatively new R User Group, and our name is R Quixote. We started in February 2021 with eight group members, and we now have more than 50 members. Our original scope was our region, Castilla-La Mancha, but currently, we have members from different parts of Spain, like Madrid and Murcia. We also have members from other countries like Argentina and Colombia. The majority of our members are from the University of Castilla-La Mancha. We also have members from different universities like the University of Alcala, the Complutense University of Madrid, and the National Distance Education University, and private and public companies like the Government of Castilla-La Mancha, and CEOs of private companies like Analitycae, Okuant, or MRC Consultants.
We also have strong collaborative ties with R user groups across the region. We collaborate with Emilio López Cano, the president of R-Hispano, the R National group. We have also organized events with Aurora González Vidal, the president of UMUR.
Our user group collaborates with the University of Castilla-La Mancha in the Master of Data Science & Business Analytics (with R software). The program is completely online and taught in R. The agreement between R Quixote and UCLM allows a 10% discount on the tuition fee to the R Quixote members.
Isidro: I have designed the group logo, and it features the helmet of Mambrino, which is really famous here in the Quixote region. The lead character of the novel Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes inspires it. It also features a silhouette of a windmill, again a reference to the novel. I have improvised a little and used an electric windmill instead of a traditional windmill. We have a webpage, but some sections are under construction. We are also on Twitter, but we are not very active there.
You held the 3rd R4EDI Conference from 19-20th October 2023. Can you share the details?
Gema: We host an annual event called the R4EDI Conference (R para Empresa, Docencia e Investigación; R for Business, Teaching, and Research). Our first conference was in Toledo in June of 2021. Toledo is a very beautiful city in Castilla-La Mancha. It was a Hybrid event because of the pandemic. At this event, we had three important guest speakers: Emilio López Cano, President of R-Hispano (the most important R local group of Spain), Aurora González Vidal (President of UMUR, the R local group of the region of Murcia), and Xavi de Blas (Senior Software Developer at Chronojump).
We organized the second conference in Pastrana. On this occasion, we had the participation of several experts from the INE (Statistical Agency of Spain), the UNED (Universidad Nacional de Eduacación a Distancia; National University of Distance Education), and some enterprises such as Analitycae and Okuant.
We began hosting this conference as a physical event, and it is a great place to meet people from business, teaching, research, and government to share ideas. This year, we organized the event in Almagro from 19-20th October 2023. Almagro is a beautiful city from Ciudad Real. We invited speakers like Mari Luz Congosto. She is a very prominent engineer from Telefonica; she’s currently teaching at the University Carlos III of Madrid. Borja Andrino from El País newspaper also spoke at the event. María Jiménez, a senior researcher from La Paz-IdiPAZ, also gave a talk. La-IdiPAZ is a national hospital located in Madrid. Here is a photo of the group:
The 3rd R4EDI was our main event, and we were delighted to provide a networking platform to businesses, students, and researchers. This year, Julián Garde, the rector of the University of Castilla-La Mancha, inaugurated the conference.
Any techniques you recommend using for planning for or during the event?
Isidro: I want to discuss an interesting package that can be really helpful for RUG organizers. I also gave a workshop on the use of the SendGrid R package. It allows you to create prototypes of certificates, for example, certificates of participation or certificates for conference organizers. It is really useful because we now have the code for these events, and you can send all the conference certificates in no time. This package can be very useful for RUG organizers.
Please share about a project you are currently working on or have worked on in the past using the R language. Goal/reason, result, anything interesting?
Gema: We are working together on writing a book for the Hispanic R community. Almost 50 people are working on this book, most of them researchers. The title of the book is Fundamentos de Ciencia de Datos con R (Fundamentals of Data Science with R). The main motivation behind writing this book was that Spanish is among the most spoken languages in the world. Yet, there are not many good and comprehensive data science books written in Spanish. We wanted to write a really good book in Spanish with statistics fundamentals, not only with machine learning but also deep learning and text mining. We also have a section dedicated to special data science and a very important part of communication with Quarto and R Markdown. We also have 13 case studies from different areas like soccer, health, marketing, unemployment, finance, and retail.
McGraw Hill will publish this book, and we will have an open webpage. We also have our own R package CDR, with all datasets used in the book that are not free on other websites. Isidro has also designed the logo for the package. We are very proud to announce that Julia Silge will be writing the prologue for the book.