The goal of the Infrastructure Steering Committee (the ISC) is to support projects that broadly help the R community. This might be software development, developing new teaching materials, documenting best practices, standardising APIs or doing research. Currently, the ISC chiefly provides financial support for projects proposed by individuals or teams who have the skills to carry out the work, but we can also provide administrative support, promotion and some collaboration tools for groups who would like to study more ambitious projects.

Below is a list of the projects currently funded by the ISC.

In Progress

 

R Localization Proposal (RL10N)

Proposed By: Richie Cotton (Weill Cornell Medicine in Quatar) and Thomas Leeper (The London School of Economics and Political Science)
Funded: 10,000USD
Project URL: https://4dpiecharts.com/2016/03/23/rl10n-let-r-speak-your-language/
Project Summary: Although the R language is used globally, very few R packages are available in languages other than English. The RL10N project will make it easier for R developers to include translations in their own packages.

SatRdays

Proposed By: Gergely Daroczi (Hungarian R user group) and Steph Locke (Mango Solutions)
Funded: 10,000USD
Project URL: http://planning.satrdays.org/
Project Summary: “SatRDays” are community-led, regional conferences to support collaboration, networking and innovation within the R community. Initially three events will be hosted, with plans for additional meet-ups as the R user base grows.

 

Adding Linux Binary Builders to R-Hub

Proposed By: Dirk Eddelbuettel (edd at debian.org)
Funded: 15,000USD
Project URL:  https://github.com/r-hub/rhub-linux-builders
Project Summary:  This project proposes to take the creation of binary Linux packages to the next level by providing R-Hub with the ability to deliver directly installable binary packages with properly-resolved dependencies. This will allow large-scale automated use of CRAN packages anywhere: laptops, desktops, servers, cluster farms and cloud-based deployments.

The project would like to hear from anyone who could possibly host a dedicated server in a rack for long term use.

 

Conference Management System for R Consortium Sponsored Conferences

Funded: 19,000USD
Proposed By: Heather Turner (ht at heatherturner.net)
Project URL:  TBA
Project Summary:  This project will evaluate a number of open source conference management systems to assess their suitability for use with useR! and satRdays. Test versions of these systems will be set up to test their functionality and ease of use for all roles (systems administrator, local organizer, program chair, reviewer, conference participant). A system will be selected and a production system set up, with a view to be ready for useR! 2018 and future satRdays events.

Continued Development of the R API for Distributed Computing

Funded: 15,000USD
Proposed By: Michael Lawrence (michafla at gene.com)
Project URL:  TBA
Project Summary:  The ISC’s Distributed Computing Working Group explores ways of enabling distributed computing in R. One of its outputs, the CRAN package ddR, defines an idiomatic API that abstracts different distributed computing engines, such as DistributedR and potentially Spark and TensorFlow. The goal of the project is to enable R users to interact with familiar data structures and write code that is portable across distributed systems.

The working group will use this R Consortium grant to fund an internship to help improve ddR and implement support for one or more additional backends. Please contact Michael Lawrence to apply or request additional information.

Establishing  DBI

Funded: 26,500USD
Proposed By: Kirill Müller (krlmlr at mailbox.org)
Project URL:  https://www.r-dbi.org/
Project Summary:  Getting data in and out of R is an important part of a statistician’s or data scientist’s work. If the data reside in a database, this is best done with a backend to DBI, R’s native DataBase Interface. The ongoing “Improving DBI” project supports the DBI specification, both in prose and as an automated test. It also supports the adaptation of the `RSQLite` package to these specs. This follow-up project aims to implement a modern, fully spec-compliant DBI backends to two major open-source RDBMS, MySQL/MariaDB and PostgreSQL.

Forwards Workshops for Women and Girls

Funded: 25,000USD
Proposed By: Dianne Cook (rowforwards at gmail.com)
Project URL:  TBA
Project Summary:  The proportion of female package authors and maintainers has remained persistently low, at best at 15%, despite 20 years of the R project’s existence. This project will conduct a grassroots effort to increase the participation of women in the R community. One day package development workshops for women engaged in research will be held in Melbourne, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand in 2017, and at locations yet to be determined in the USA and Europe in 2018. Additionally, one day workshops for teenage girls focused on building Shiny apps will be developed to encourage an interest in programming. These will be rolled out in the same locations as the women’s workshops. All materials developed will be made available under a Creative Commons share-alike license on the Forwards website (http://forwards.github.io).

Joint Profiling of Native and R Code

Funded: 11,000USD
Proposed By: Kirill Müller (krlmlr at mailbox.org)
Project URL:  TBA
Project Summary:  R has excellent facilities for profiling R code: the main entry point is the Rprof() function that starts an execution mode where the R call stack is sampled periodically, optionally at source line level, and written to a file. Profiling results can be analyzed with summaryRprof(), or visualized using the profvis,  aprof, or GUIProfiler packages. However, the execution time of native code is only available in bulk, without detailed source information.

This project aims at bridging this gap with a drop-in replacement to Rprof() that records call stacks and memory usage information at both R and native levels, and later commingles them to present a unified view to the user.

R-hub #2

Funded: 89,500USD
Proposed By: Gábor Csárdi (csardi.gabor at gmail.com)
Project URL: https://github.com/r-hub/
Project Summary:  R-hub is the first top level project of the R Consortium. The first stage of the project created a multi-platform, R package build server. This proposal includes the maintenance of the current R-hub infrastructure and a number of improvements and extensions including:

  1. R-hub as the first step of package submissions to CRAN
  2. R package reverse dependency checks, on R-hub and locally
  3. General R code execution, on all R-hub platforms
  4. Check and code quality badges
  5. Database of CRAN code
  6. The CRAN code browser

School of Data Material Development

Funded: 11,200USD
Proposed By: Heidi Seibold (heidi at schoolofdata.ch)
Project URL: https://github.com/school-of-data/r-consortium-proposal
Project Summary: School of Data is a network of data literacy practitioners, both organizations and individuals, implementing training and other data literacy activities in their respective countries and regions. Members of School of Data work to empower civil society organizations (CSOs), journalists, civil servants and citizens with the skills they need to use data effectively in their efforts to create better, more equitable and more sustainable societies

Our R consortium will develop learning materials about R for journalists, with a focus on making them accessible and relevant to journalists from various countries. As a consequence, our content will use country-relevant examples and will be translated in several languages (English, French, Spanish, German).

Stars: Scalable, Spatiotemporal Tidy Arrays for R

Funded: 10,000USD
Proposed By: Edzer Pebesma (edzer.pebesma at uni-muenster.de)
Project URL:  TBA
Project Summary:  Spatiotemporal and raster data often come as dense, two-dimensional arrays while remote sensing and climate model data are often presented as higher dimensional arrays. Data sets of this kind often do not fit in main memory. This project will make it easier to handle such data with R by using dplyr-style, pipe-based workflows, and also consider the case where the data reside remotely, in a cloud environment. Questions and offers to support are welcome through issues at: https://github.com/edzer/stars .

Quantities for R

Funded: 10,000USD
Proposed By: Iñaki Ucar (inaki.ucar at uc3m.es)
Project URL:  TBA
Project Summary:  The ‘units’ package has become the reference for quantity calculus in R, with a wide and welcoming response from the R community. Along the same lines, the ‘errors’ package integrates and automatises error propagation and printing for R vectors. A significant fraction of R users, both practitioners and researchers, use R to analyse measurements, and would benefit from a joint processing of quantity values with errors.

This project not only aims at orchestrating units and errors in a new data type, but will also extend the existing frameworks (compatibility with base R as well as other frameworks such as the tidyverse) and standardise how to import/export data with units and errors.

Refactoring and updating the SWIG R module

Funded: 10,000USD
Proposed By: Richard Beare (richard.beare at monash.edu)
Project URL:  TBA
Project Summary: The Simplified Wrapper and Interface Generator (SWIG) is a tool for automatically generating interface code between interpreters, including R, and a C or C++ library. The R module needs to be updated to support modern developments in R and the rest of SWIG. This project aims to make the R module conform to the recommended SWIG standards and thus ensure that there is support for R in the future. We hope that this project will be the first step in allowing SWIG generated R code using reference classes.

Future Minimal API: Specification with Backend Conformance Test Suite

Funded: 10,000USD
Proposed By: Henrik Bengtsson (henrik.bengtsson at gmail.com)
Project URL:  TBA
Project Summary: The objective of the Future Framework implemented in the future package is to simplify how parallel and distributed processing is conducted in R. This project aims to provide a formal Future API specification and provide a test framework for validating the conformance of existing (e.g. future.batchtools and future.callr) and to-come third-party parallel backends to the Future framework.

An Earth data processing backend for testing and evaluating stars

Funded: 5,000USD
Proposed By: Edzer Pebesma (edzer.pebesma at uni-muenster.de)
Project URL: https://www.rdocumentation.org/packages/stars/versions/0.0
Project Summary: The stars project enables the processing Earth imagery data that is held on servers, without the need to download it to local hard drive. This project will (i) create software to run a back-end, (ii) develop scripts and tutorials that explain how such a data server and processing backend can be set up, and (iii) create an instance of such a backend in the AWS cloud that can be used for testing and evaluation purposes.

Maintaining DBI

Funded: 26,500USD
Proposed By: Kirill Müller
Project URL: http://dbi.r-dbi.org/
Project Summary: DBI, R’s database interface, is a set of methods declared in the DBI R package. Communication with the database is implemented by DBI backends, packages that import DBI and implement its methods. A common interface is helpful for both users and backend implementers.

The Maintaining DBI Project which follows up on two previous projects supported by the R Consortium will provide ongoing maintenance and support for DBI, the DBItest test suite, and the three backends to open-source databases (RSQLite, RMariaDB and RPostgres).

Ongoing infrastructural development for R on Windows and MacOS

Funded: 62,400USD
Proposed By: Jeroen Ooms
Project URL: TBA
Project Summary: The majority of R users rely on precompiled installers and binary packages for Windows and MacOS that are made available through CRAN. This project seeks to improve and maintain tools for providing such binaries. On Windows we will upgrade the Rtools compiler toolchain, and provide up-to-date Windows builds for the many external C/C++ libraries used by CRAN packages. For MacOS we will expand the R-Hub homebrew-cran with formulas that are needed by CRAN packages but not available from upstream homebrew-core. Eventually, we want to lay the foundation for a reproducible build system that is low maintenance, automated as much as possible, and which could be used by CRAN and other R package repositories.

Developing Tools and Templates for Teaching Materials

Funded: 10,000USD
Proposed By: François Michonneau
Project URL: TBA
Project Summary: The first-class implementation of literate programming in R is one of the reasons for its success. While the seamless integration of code and text made possible by Sweave , knitr, and R Markdown was designed for writing reproducible reports and documentation, it has also enabled the creation of teaching materials that combine text, code examples, exercises and solutions. However, while people creating lessons in R Markdown are familiar with R, they often do not have a background in education or UX design. Therefore, they must not only assemble curriculum, but also find a way to present the content effectively and accessibly to both learners and instructors. As the model of open source development is being adapted to the creation of open educational resources, the difficulty to share materials due to a lack of consistency in their construction hinders the collaborative development of these resources.

This project will develop an R package that will facilitate the development of consistent teaching resources. It will encourage the use of tools and lesson structure that support and improve learning. By providing the technical framework for developing quality teaching materials, we seek to encourage collaborative lesson development by letting authors focus on the content rather than the formatting, while providing a more consistent experience for the learners.

PSI application for collaboration to create online R package validation repository

Funded: 4,000USD
Proposed By: Lyn Taylor (on behalf of PSI AIMS SIG)
Project URL: TBA
Project Summary: The documentation available for R packages currently widely varies. The Statisticians in the Pharmaceutical Industry (PSI) Application and Implementation of Methodologies in Statistics (AIMS) Special Interest Group (SIG) will collaborate with the R-Consortium and representatives from pharmaceutical companies on the setting up of an online repository /web portal, where validation which is of regulatory standard for R packages can be submitted and stored for free use. Companies (or individual R users) would still be liable to make their own assessment on whether the validation is suitable for their own use, however the online repository would serve as a portal for sharing existing regulatory standard validation documentation.

A unified platform for missing values methods and workflows

Funded: 10,000USD
Proposed By: Julie Josse and Nicholas Tierney
Project URL: TBA
Project Summary: The objective is to create a reference platform on the theme of missing data management and to federate contributors. This platform will be the occasion to list the existing packages, the available literature as well as the tutorials that allow to analyze data with missing data. New work on the subject can be easily integrated and we will create examples of analysis workflows with missing data. Anyone who would like to contribute to this exciting project can contact us.

histoRicalg — Preserving and Transfering Algorithmic Knowledge

Funded: 4,000USD
Proposed By: John C Nash
Project URL: TBA
Project Summary: Many of the algorithms making up the numerical building-blocks of R were developed several decades ago, particularly in Fortran. Some were translated into C for use by R. Only a modest proportion of R users today are fluent in these languages, and many original authors are no longer active. Yet some of these codes may have bugs or need adjustment for new system capabilities. The histoRicalg project aims to document and test such codes that are still  part of R, possibly creating all-R reference codes, hopefully by teaming older and younger workers so knowledge can be shared for the future. Our initial task is to establish a Working Group on Algorithms Used in R and add material to a website/wiki.

Interested workers are invited to contact John Nash.

Proposal to Create an R Consortium Working Group Focused on US Census Data

Funded: 4,000USD
Proposed By: Ari Lamstein
Project URL: TBA
Project Summary: The Proposal to Create an R Consortium Working Group Focused on US Census Data aims to make life easier for R programmers who work with data from the US Census Bureau. It will create a working group where R users working with census data can cooperate under the guidance of the Census Bureau. Additionally, it will publish a guide to working with Census data in R that aims to help R programmers a) select packages that meet their needs and b) navigate the various data sets that the Census Bureau publishes.

Completed Projects

RHub Project

Proposed By: Gábor Csárdi (Harvard University)
Funded: 80,000USD
Project URL: https://github.com/r-hub/
Project Summary: A new service for developing, building, testing and validating R packages. R-Hub will be complementary to both CRAN, the major repository for open source R packages, and R-Forge, the platform supporting R package developers. R-Hub will provide build services, continuous integration for R packages and a distribution mechanism for R package sources and binaries.

  • Goals for R-Hub include:
    • simplify the R package development process: creating a package, building binaries and continuous integration, publishing, distributing and maintaining it;
    • provide services free for all members of the community;
    • encourage community contributions; and
    • pre-test CRAN package submissions to ease burden on CRAN maintainers.

A Unified Framework For Distributed Computing in R

Proposed By: Michael Lawrence (R core, Genetech), Edward Ma (Hewlett Packard Enterprise), and  Indrajit Roy (Hewlett Packard Labs)
Funded: 10,000USD
Project URL: TBA
Project Summary: Many Big Data platforms expose R-based interfaces that lack standardization and are therefore difficult to learn. This project will develop a common framework to simplify and standardize how users program distributed applications in R, ultimately reducing duplication of effort.

Improving Database Interface (DBI)

Proposed By: Kirill Müller (ETH Zürich)
Funded: 25,000USD
Project URL: https://www.r-dbi.org/
Project Summary: Database access is an important cornerstone of the R ecosystem, but today’s specifications – data type transformation, return values, error conditions – remain vague and result in data analysis errors. This project aims to improve database access in R so that porting code is simplified and less prone to error.

R Implementation, Optimization and Tooling Workshops (RIOT)

Proposed By: Mark Hornick, Lukas Stadler and Adam Welc (Oracle)
Funded: 10,000USD
Project URL: http://riotworkshop.github.io/
Project Summary: RIOT 2016 is a one-day workshop to unite R language developers, identify R language development and tooling opportunities, increase involvement of the R user community and more.

Simple Features Access For R

Proposed By: Edzer Pebesma (Institute for Geoinformatics, University of Muenster)
Funded: 10,000USD
Project URL: https://r-spatial.github.io/sf/
Project Summary: Using the “Simple Features” standard supported by the Open Geospatial Consortium and the International Organization for Standardization, this tool will simplify analysis on modern geospatial data.

Software Carpentry R Instructor Training

Proposed By: John Blishak, Jonah Duckles, Laurent Gatto, David LeBauer, and Greg Wilson (Software Carpentry)
Funded: 10,000USD
Project URL:http://software-carpentry.org/blog/2016/03/r-consortium-training.html
Project Summary: This two-day in-person training course will introduce the basics of R programming and address the growing demand for training resources for the R language.

An Infrastructure for Building R Packages on MacOS with Homebrew

Proposed By: Jeroen Ooms (jeroenooms at gmail.com)
Funded:  12,000USD
Project URL:  https://github.com/r-hub/homebrew-cran
Project Summary:  When installing CRAN packages, Windows and MacOS users often rely on binary packages that contain precompiled source code and any required external C/C++ libraries. By eliminating the need to set up a full compiler environment or manage external libraries this tremendously improves the usability of R on these platforms. Our project will improve the system by adapting the popular Homebrew system to facilitate static linking of external libraries.