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Aug 5, 2014

Beyond Spreadsheets: Bruce McCullough, Drexel University

“I want my students focusing on statistical methods, not on software.”

-- Bruce McCullough, Professor, LeBow College of Business, Drexel University

mccullough_bBeyond Spreadsheets is a blog series that highlights how JMP customers are augmenting their tools and processes for exploratory data analysis to make breakthrough discoveries. We talk with JMP users to understand how and why their organizations bring Excel data into JMP. Our third interview in this series is with Professor Bruce McCullough, who teaches statistics at Drexel University.

Fast Facts

  • JMP user since 2011
  • Favorite JMP features: Its superior visualization capabilities
  • Proudest professional moment: Leading the American Economic Review to adopt a mandatory data-code archive for its articles
  • In which courses do you and your students use JMP?

    I teach statistics to undergrads, MBAs, master’s degree students in business analytics, and PhD students. I use a variety of statistical packages in my own work. I use JMP when I teach undergrads and MBAs because it’s powerful and easy to learn. I have been using JMP in my teaching for about four years.

    What do you like most about the type of work you do?

    Every day is different, and if a day is boring, it’s my fault. I have written on the accuracy of statistical software, the replicability of published research and other topics. Lately, I have refocused my efforts toward data mining and predictive analytics.

    What is a professional accomplishment of which you are most proud?

    I co-authored the article that led the American Economic Review to adopt a mandatory data-code archive for the articles it publishes. Prior to this, research in economics journals was largely not replicable. After the American Economic Review took its action, all the other top economics journals followed suit.

    Why do you use JMP in your teaching?

    I want my students focusing on statistical methods, not on software. I need software that is easy to use, accurate, and available for PCs and Macs. Only a very few packages meet these requirements. I gave up on Minitab when Macs got popular because it was available only for PCs. I tried R with a GUI for a couple years, but the students just had too many problems with it. So I tried JMP, and found that it met all my needs. One principal advantage of JMP over the other packages that I considered is its superior visualization capabilities, which are either nonexistent or harder to use in the other packages.

    How have students reacted to using JMP?

    Students find JMP easy and intuitive. Of course, it was designed from the ground up for the sole purpose of doing statistics. All the statistical functionality of Excel is merely a kludge grafted onto a spreadsheet. Remember, spreadsheets are for accountants to balance numbers, not for doing statistics.

    Is there anything else you would like to mention?

    Many years ago I was on a panel with Jon Cryer, a statistician from the University of Iowa, and he showed a picture of a man holding a handsaw standing next to a giant redwood tree, captioned thusly: “Get the right tool for the right job! Friends don't let friends use Excel for statistics!”

    Ready to go beyond spreadsheets? Visit and learn how to gather and prepare data for analysis from multiple sources.

    1 Comment
    Community Member

    Michael Clayton wrote:

    Thanks. As mentioned in interview, R with GUI is hard to install and use compared to JMP, but most of the free online courses from Coursera or Edx force students (globally..many countries..many types of laptops etc) to install R and a few also add a GUI. Same for data structuring courses using Python. Just because its free does not mean its user friendly..only pocket-book friendly.

    I found that I can do the course assignments (I only audit those free online courses) using JMP, and the "answers" are posted in 2 weeks so I can check my work. Retired..auditing is good to prevent brain plasticity loss:-)