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Bogeys, Pictures and Numbers

This weekend features one of my all-time favorite sporting events: the golf US Open (plus Father’s Day on Sunday provides a convenient guilt-free excuse to actually watch it). This year, the tournament is held at the Bethpage Black course just outside of New York City. It has a classic sign:

Sign at Bethpage Black course that reads Warning: This Black Course Is an Extremely Difficult Course Which We Recommend for Only Highly Skilled Golfers

Not sure who “We” represents, but there is an unquestionable tone of authority, with prepositions, definite and indefinite articles all capitalized. And note this course is not just for “Skilled Golfers”, but “Highly Skilled Golfers.” (Hats off to the pros this week who are also battling Mother Nature under very soggy conditions.)

Some data sets should come with a similar warning. In genomics, we are now faced with experiments conducted on thousands of individuals with millions of measurements on each across a variety of complex molecular domains: genetic markers, transcript abundance, copy number, microRNA, protein and metabolite intensities, not to mention thousands of standard phenotypes. Analyzing such data sets properly certainly requires skill along with the best possible software.

A primary goal of JMP since its inception more than 20 years ago has been to provide a dynamic and optimal combination of both statistics and graphics. Drop one of this pair, and you are going to miss something critical. JMP Genomics, although much younger, is definitely building on the same philosophy. Accomplishing this goal is difficult, but we continue to make progress and relish your feedback on how to do it better.

Confession: Every time I pass a mirror and find no one is looking, I practice my golf swing. I’m a sucker for every newfangled idea on how to hit a golf ball better -- trust me, there is an infinite supply of them -- and just have to try it. I’ve been tinkering with my dang swing since graduate school and still don’t have it right. Not seeing him enter, I almost knocked a guy out one time with my mock follow-through in a small men’s room.

One technology that’s a godsend is digital video with slow motion. Interactively successive freeze frames taken from good angles show exactly what I’m doing (even though I think I’m doing something else) -- that, of course, and actually striking that dumb little 1.68 inch diameter sphere and adding up my score.

Pictures and Numbers. One day they might even get me to “Highly Skilled.”

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