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Michael Betancourt

Applied statistician

in developer, mac, statistician

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Michael Betancourt. I am an applied statistician who develops statistical methodologies, computational tools, and pedagogical resources that bridge statistical theory and practice. My ultimate goal is to provide better tools for practicing scientists of all fields.

I am also one of many software developers of Stan, an open-source platform for statistical modeling and computation.

What hardware do you use?

I'm not exactly an early adopter. All of my work is done on a late 2013 15-inch MacBook Pro, with an awkward British keyboard and a dying battery, that I'm not planning on giving up anytime soon.

And what software?

For writing code and teaching materials I make heavy use of Atom, keeping everything organized with GitHub. When developing algorithms I stick to C++ and the OS X Terminal, but when working on pedagogical exercises I use RStudio for R and Hydrogen within Atom for Python. As a consultant you have to be multilingual in R and Python to jump between different clients' environments, but when running my own analyses I largely stick to the command line with sed, grep, and awk directing most of my workflow.

I spend perhaps too much of my time making figures to elucidate subtle mathematical concepts. For pure conceptual figures I rely heavily on the power of TikZ and for anything involving data I reach for the awesome Gnuplot. When I need a bit more flexibility, or want to spin off another variant of the Stan logo, I'll use Inkscape.

When writing presentations I love Keynote, with LaTeXiT providing equation typesetting support. For presenting I use my reliable iPhone 6 as a remote through the criminally underused Keynote iOS app.

My papers are writing in LaTeX through the MacTeX distribution. For my pedagogical writing, however, I have recently been experimenting with literate programming, mostly through knitr although I am always on the look out for new developments in that direction.

What would be your dream setup?

Given how much one can accomplish with a decent laptop and open source tools I haven't wanted for much beyond my current set up. Really the only thing I'm missing is an eduroam account for which I've pined since leaving academia.