26 May 2017

Actuarial Services: Are you familiar with the R programming language?

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R is a computer language used in a number of fields, including actuarial science, to interpret statistics and various mathematical applications. Why should you be interested? Because it’s developing fast, has many outstanding properties, and is increasingly popular with businesses here.

To get a better understanding of the R programming language, we chatted with Jean-Philippe Le Cavalier, an actuary at Promutuel Insurance and a big fan of R! He will be presenting a talk at the 2017 R symposium at Université Laval in Québec City (french only).

Jean-Philippe, how did you get interested in the R programming language?

I started using it when I was studying actuarial science at university. Coding in R is a hobby for me! I do it at work, but also in my spare time. R is an open source language, which means that people from all over the world are working on improving and expanding it. There are updates and developments happening all the time, which is really exciting.

How is R used at Promutuel Insurance?

R is an environment where you can manipulate a huge amount of data. For actuaries, it’s a great tool for better managing risk. At Promutuel Insurance, we use it in our analysis, development, and production processes, which is quite innovative in the insurance industry.

SAS is still one of the most popular statistical applications in insurance, but R will gain ground in the coming years because of its flexibility. Something to watch for.

Recently, you gave a talk at the R symposium in Québec City soon. Tell us about your presentation.

The title is “data.table: a must-have R package!” Introduced by Matt Dowle about ten years ago, the data.table library is still not being used to its full potential by most R programmers. My presentation was an introduction to this library, particularly its main component, the data.table class. This class improves on the conventional approach to in-memory processing of structured data. I’ll use simple examples to explain the various benefits of adding this library to your programming tools.

Thank you Jean-Philippe!