"R" statistical company gets new and important board members

Robert Gentleman and Donald Nickelson have joined the board of REvolution Computing. Gentleman is co-creator of this OpenSource statistical package which is widely used by researchers. The news was released moments ago, and here is a press release from the company:

REvolution Computing, the leading commercial provider of software and support for the open source "R" statistical computing language, announced the appointment of R co-creator Robert Gentleman and investment-banking veteran Donald Nickelson to its board of directors. Gentleman and Nickelson join directors Norman Nie and Basil Horangic and observers Lisa Lambert and Patrick Walsh on the REvolution board.

REvolution Computing president and CEO Norman Nie said, "Welcoming Robert and Donald as part of our leadership team is a tremendous boon to REvolution Computing. As the co-creator of R, Robert Gentleman will help strengthen our commitment to working hand-in-hand with the R community. Donald brings tremendous experience and expertise from the financial services industry. This is an exciting time for our company, and we are delighted they have joined the REvolution team."

Gentleman has been an innovator in the statistical computing world for more than 20 years. In 1996, he and fellow professor Ross Ihaka at the University of Aukland in New Zealand released the R code as a free software package after five years of its development. The goal was to offer technology better suited for their statistics students, who needed to analyze data and produce graphical models of the information. Today, R is used by more than 2 million people both in academic and commercial settings, quickly becoming the de facto standard for predictive analytics.

In addition to his role on the REvolution Computing board, Gentleman has been a senior director in bioinformatics at Genentech (a member of the Roche Group) since September. In his academic career, he has received multiple research grants and has published more than two dozen articles on statistical computing. He holds a BS in mathematics from the University of British Columbia and a Ph.D. from the University of Washington.

"REvolution has made important contributions to the R community and to the commercial use of R on an enterprise level," Gentleman said. "I am eager to help Norman and the team expand the role R has in the commercial world and to help bring high-quality analytic and graphical software to many new areas of application."

Donald Nickelson has been the director of First Advantage, a risk management consultancy, since 2003. In addition to his role at First Advantage, he serves as vice chairman and director of Harbour Group Industries, a leveraged buy-out firm.

Nickelson is also director of the Adolor Corporation, where he is a member of the compensation and audit committees. In addition, he is on the advisory board of Celtic Pharmaceutical Holdings and also serves as chairman of the advisory board of Celtic Therapeutics.

Previously, Nickelson served as president of PaineWebber Group, an investment banking and brokerage firm, as well as serving on the board of numerous public and private companies.

Said Nickelson: "Financial institutions have been early adopters of REvolution's ground-breaking products for a very good reason: they handle tremendous amounts of mission critical data in record time, allowing for better, more efficient and more effective modeling. REvolution is a company on a fantastic trajectory, and I am thrilled to be joining Norman, the esteemed board, and the terrific management team in the effort to make REvolution the new standard in commercial predictive analytics."


More like this

Excellent - the more supported and easier R becomes to use, the better. I'm all for good statistics packages that are platform-independent.

It's good to hear they're doing well. I remember the pre-R days, there was (still is) this commercial software 'S' which ran on UNIX machines. Great tool, but far too expensive for undergrad teaching - but I haven't yet met a statistician who doesn't use 'S'.

By MadScientist (not verified) on 25 Jan 2010 #permalink

I live and die by R, but why is this a good or bad thing? Will R stay free and OpenSource?

btw, the proprietary Excel uses its R plugin way, way better than the OpenOffice does its. I contribute a little money to openoffice sometimes, I wonder if I could put a bug in their ear and/or contribute some coding help to make R4Calc work better.

By Marion Delgado (not verified) on 26 Jan 2010 #permalink

Marion, have you looked at gnumeric?

Regarding if this is a good or a bad thing, I think it's generally a good thing and I assume R will stay opensource. Legally, it can't not stay opensource


That's reassuring about R and OpenSource.

Since I dislike what I see as the overhead of KDE stuff*, I usually use Gnome apps, and I used gnumeric in particular for a couple of years until OpenOffice(Neo on Mac) was fast and upgraded for most OSes. I still typically install gnumeric and Euler on any system I have that will take them.

If I'm at work I use Excel, which work bought for me, and the R plugin, anywhere else I use NeoOffice calc and R4Calc. It's a little more work up front but both Excel (obviously) and NeoOffice can easily save as xls files, so people that don't know R can see a spreadsheet or an R Dump spreadsheet. In OpenOffice I typically take the steps I typed in in R and save them as a "script" and load them with R4Calc.

Longwinded way of saying I like interoperability of R and Excel-like things because I feel they're more accessible.

*In my experience, I had to load endless libraries and apps to run any single KDE app, and Gnome apps seemed friendlier in that dimension.

By Marion Delgado (not verified) on 27 Jan 2010 #permalink