Archive for November, 2008

Back from Conference of the American Society of Criminology (ASC 2008)

Friday, November 21st, 2008

I just got back from ASC 2008 (Conference of the American Society of Criminology). It’s the main conference for everything in criminology and has a wide international attendance. This was the first conference of this kind I attended and it was quite different from what I’m used to. There were more than 20 tracks – yep,20 talks going on at the same time. It’s impossible to pick and choose; the program was a book with a few hundred pages containing only titles and names (no abstracts) of the sessions and talks. Wow… But still way too many talks. I think the conference would be better if there would be a review process of the abstracts as some of the talks didn’t quite match the advertised title.

However, from the sessions I attended about two thirds of the presenters fail to show up. In one particular case I was interested in seeing a talk critical about an psychometric instrument I have worked with and the presenters bailed despite that we saw them in the morning in the conference hotel. That’s something I haven’t seen happen in computer science conferences at all. Some of the studies presented were a bit funny (small sample, no hold-out set etc.). Overall I got one new idea out of it that could turn out to be interesting: a diversity measure for static recidivism risk models.

Unfortunately St. Louis was a bit boring. It has pretty parks, but e.g. Tango dancing ends at 11pm (2am in Denver – at the earliest). Oh well…

Deploying SAS code in production

Saturday, November 1st, 2008

I had written a post about the issues of converting models into something that is usable in production environments as most stats-packages don’t have friendly interfaces to integrate them into the flow of processing data. I worked on a similar problem involving a script written in SAS recently. To be specific, some code for computing a risk-score in SAS had to be converted into Java and I was confronted with having to figure out the semantics of SAS code. I found a software to convert SAS code into Java and I have to say I was quite impressed with how well it worked. Converting one language (especially one for which there is no published grammar or other specification) into another is quite a task – after a bit of back and forth with support we got our code converted and the Java code worked on the first try. I wish there would be similar converter for STATA, R and SPSS 🙂