Some People Are Born to Write


A friend recently asked me why I am writing a book. My answer? Some people are born to write a book and some have books thrust upon them. Mine was thrust upon me, although it is more accurate to say that I thrust it upon myself.

My book, Statistical Programming with SAS/IML® Software, is a response to years of talking with SAS customers at statistical conferences, SAS Global Forum, and regional SAS Users Group conferences. The more I interacted with customers, the more I noticed that I was answering the same questions and showing the same examples over and over again.

In response, I developed a two-hour workshop on SAS/IML® Studio that demonstrates how to perform many of the statistical tasks that customers ask about. This course has been offered for about five years. It is aimed at SAS/STAT® programmers who need to use the SAS/IML language to extend and enhance the analyses that are provided by SAS/STAT procedures.

However, two hours is not a long time in which to learn a new skill or new techniques. After my presentations, attendees often ask The Question: “Is there a good book that I can read to learn more?”

Ummm, not really...

It bothered me that I didn’t have a good answer to The Question. In fact, I began to dread The Question. It also bothered me that my course was only reaching the small subset of customers who attend conferences. What about the rest? The wheels in my brain began to turn…

Fast forward 16 months to the present day. With the help of colleagues and the fine folks at SAS Press, my former course notes are now a 400 page book which will be published in a few months.

The book contains hundreds of examples, many of which were originally developed in response to questions from SAS users. I present tips and techniques on efficiency. I present more than a dozen case studies that explore modern statistical techniques such as bootstrapping, robust regression, and density estimation.

In November I’m presenting my two-hour workshop at the Western Users of SAS Software (WUSS) in San Diego. I’m hoping someone will approach me afterwards and ask The Question.

This time, I have an answer.


About Author

Rick Wicklin

Distinguished Researcher in Computational Statistics

Rick Wicklin, PhD, is a distinguished researcher in computational statistics at SAS and is a principal developer of SAS/IML software. His areas of expertise include computational statistics, simulation, statistical graphics, and modern methods in statistical data analysis. Rick is author of the books Statistical Programming with SAS/IML Software and Simulating Data with SAS.

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