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Indian Society for Probability and Statistics

(April 11, 2006)


To: Members and Friends of ISPS
From: Anil P Gore, President
Subject: Using Legal Software in teaching
Dear Colleagues,
Greetings from Pune. As your President I hope to meet you all at the next annual
conference. However that is not enough. I want to interact with you much more often.
There are many issues of interest to our community that I would like to discuss with you
to ascertain your views and perhaps plan some action. My request to you is three fold.
Firstly I hope you will read my mails and give some thought to the ideas expressed
therein. Secondly I hope you will discuss the matter with your colleagues and send me
your reactions. Lastly I request you to forward my mails to others who might be
interested and give me addresses of those individuals. I will incorporate these addresses
in my mailing list and save you the trouble of forwarding these the next time. My practice
will be to send the mail first to the executive committee of ISPS and incorporate
suggestions of committee members. Such a revised mail will be sent to all of you.
Topic for this mail is the computer software we use in conducting laboratory
exercises (practicals) in statistics in Colleges and Universities. It is necessary to ensure
that we use packages with due permissions. I believe that most institutions do not have
the financial resources to buy enough copies of commercial packages. Hence it is very
essential to switch to public domain software. We at Pune have put in efforts to use
software called R. College teachers have been given training in this language. An
optional paper has been introduced at B.Sc. on programming in R. Enough preparation
has been made to conduct UG and PG practicals using R. This software can be
downloaded from Internet freely. So, my recommendation is that all colleges and
universities in India should consider adopting R in their academic programs. If these
colleges need help, Pune group would be happy to give it. One way of getting help would
be to conduct a training program for college and university teachers. We have

experienced resource persons and good teaching material for such a workshop. Duration
of the workshop can be a week or so. A minimum of three days is essential. Longer the
duration, larger is the list of topics covered and greater is the length of practice sessions.
There would be two resource persons who will bring printed lecture notes and CD with
software on it. Organizers will have to raise funds to cover travel, DA and a modest
remuneration for the resource persons. If any institution is interested, please let me know
and I will put them in touch with the resource persons.
Given below is a proposal that I had sent to Dr Vaman, our Secretary
(Bangalore University) for his views. He is of the opinion that it would be better to get
some resource persons locally so that travel expense can be saved. I agree with him.
Hence my recommendation is that you should explore the possibility of conducting
such training with local expertise. But what ever you do, please do not neglect the
issue of using legal (public domain) software.
Once again, I seek your views about the whole issue and the solution
proposed here. I will get back to you later, again on this topic, with a proposal for a
competition regarding development of public domain software.
With regards,
Yours sincerely,
Anil Gore

Proposal for a three-day/seven-day workshop


On
Statistical Analysis using R
1.Eligibility: College and University teachers of statistics (including teachers in
commerce colleges, medical colleges etc), users of statistics in natural sciences, social
sciences, business management etc.
2. Objective: Teach computation of basic statistical devices (data summaries,
estimates, tests, confidence intervals, regression etc) using R language. At the end of the
workshop, undergraduate teachers should be able to conduct practical classes using R.
Participants from other disciplines should be able to implement common statistical
procedures to analyze their own data sets.
3.Preparation required: Familiarity with statistics and with use of personal
computers.
4.Learning resources: Participants will be given a CD with R software on it and
also programs for statistical analysis (at nominal cost, say Rs.200. per CD. This is the
resource of organizers.)
5.Background: Use of computers is absolutely necessary for statistical analysis.
Students must acquire necessary skills or else their employment prospects are not good.
Computers are now cheap and within reach of colleges. But software packages are very
expensive. Hence, the practice of using pirated software, however undesirable, becomes
tempting. This has to be avoided. If India is (is to be) world power in IT, then widespread
piracy has no place in the scheme of things.
You will say, What is the alternative? A simple answer is that we should use
(instead of proprietary software) software in the public domain. But people do not know
where to get it and how to use it.
The proposed workshop will remove this difficulty.
6.Precedence: At University of Pune, the Board of Studies (statistics) has included
R Language as a paper in the B Sc syllabus. College teachers in statistics have received
training in R language. Slowly, laboratory work in statistics is being done using R instead

of other packages. Other universities in India should emulate this. If you wish to contact
the Chairman, Board of Studies, here is the contact address- Professor P G Dixit,
Department of Statistics, Modern College, Pune 411005. His cell phone number is 9422089438.
7. Resource persons: Two professors from Pune will be nominated as trainers.
Their airfare, hospitality and remuneration (say Rs. 2000/- per person) will be the
responsibility of the organizers. Resource persons will provide lecture notes to be
duplicated and distributed among participants by organizers. Resource persons will also
provide one CD (containing the R language and necessary programs). Organizers can
make copies and collect a modest cost (say Rs.200/- per person) from participants.
8. Laboratory: At least one PC for every pair of participants is necessary.
9. Academic program: There will be 3 hours of lectures and 3 hours of laboratory
work every day.
10.Dates: Organizers should finalize the dates of the program in consultation with
the resource persons.
11.Selection of participants: The organizers should do this.
12.Participation certificates: Organizers can give these under the letterhead of
their own institution. If they wish to give certificates on the letterhead of ISPS, they
should seek permission of the secretary ISPS