This is one of three planned posts on the 2014 Directions in Statistical Computing (DSC) conference held in Brixen, Italy on 26-27 June. This one is just scene setting.
DSC is one of the two conference series associated with the R project. The highly successful UseR! conferences,attract hundreds of participants and have become the main meeting place for R users and developers. DSC is a much smaller conference series. As the name suggests, it takes a more strategic view of issues in statistical computing, although it is still focused mainly on R.
If you have not heard of DSC before then you can be forgiven, because the last one was held in 2009. It is also much more exclusive. In fact, participation in DSC 2014 was by invitation only, and there were around 30 participants. The meeting was convened by Robert Gentleman and hosted by Stefano Iacus at premises belonging to the University of Padova. Mornings were set aside for a meeting of the R Core team and The R Foundation. The R Foundation meeting was also very interesting, but I can’t talk about that yet.
Brixen (aka Bressanone), located in the autonomous provice of South Tyrol, is a fascinating place in its own right. Like many border areas in Europe, this is a place where history, geography and politics are not perfectly aligned. Most of the population are native German speakers, with a small minority speaking Ladin, a language related to Swiss Romansh. So Brixen does not feel completely Italian.
In fact the quickest way for me to get to the meeting from Lyon was to fly to Munich and take the train south through Innsbruck and over the Brenner pass in the Alps. This train route is the subject of one of the most ambitious transport infrastructure projects in Europe: the Brenner Base Tunnel. Currently under construction, the 64km tunnel will pass through the Alps from Innsbruck to Franzensfeste (Fortezza), just north of Brixen and will cut the journey time from Innsbruck in half. But the tunnel will not be completed before the year 2025. I wonder what Hannibal would think of it.