A fellow of the American Statistical Society, John reads widely -- in areas ranging from nutrition to history, fiction and nonfiction. Follow our conversation below to find out what's on John's current reading list, get a hint at his conference speech topic this year and learn what occupies his workdays.
You give a keynote speech at Discovery Summit every year. What do you like about speaking there?
This is the main conference each year for JMP users, and my job is to show off live what you can do with JMP as we introduce new versions, a job that I have fun with.
What will you talk about this year in your speech?
Accelerating exploration. You can discover more things if it is easy and fast to look at more things.
Your entire career has been in this field we now call analytics. What are the most important changes and developments you’ve seen in this area over the decades?
Fast computers and rich graphics have enabled changes everywhere. Experimental design has been revolutionized in the last 15 years to the point that the traditional textbooks are all way out of date. Data mining techniques have enabled large models for large data sets to be fit with a high degree of automation. Data analysis used to be the domain of specially trained experts, but now software has now empowered a wide range of researchers to become adept at analyzing data.
What kinds of books and blogs do you like to read and why? Do you have any recommendations?
I read the books of all our keynoters. I like to read books that change or widen our perspectives, such as Charles Mann (1491) on New World history, Gary Taubes on nutrition, Dean Karlan and Jacob Appel on development, Tim Harford (Adapt), Seth Fletcher on lithium, Vanessa Woods (Bonobo Handshake), Louis Sachar ( The Cardturner) and John Carlin (Invictus).
What are you busy working on these days?
Performance. Some of our users have huge files, and we still have plenty of tuning and multithreading opportunities to make analysis go much faster.