Open Source Tools R and Python: Extending the Toolbox of the Actuary
Over the last years, typical data science tasks like data manipulation and modelling have gained a stronger foothold in the day-to-day professional life of the actuary. Open source languages are renowned to be especially equipped to deal with these kind of tasks, but can also be tricky to get started with, especially when one has not been properly introduced to them. This workshop offers the opportunity to become more familiar with the open source environment and their applications, illustrated in detail by means of a number of hands-on modules, hereby enabling the actuary to tackle the data science tasks in an elegant manner.
Open source tools like R, Python and more recently Julia have gained a lot of momentum in recent years, not just in popularity but also in number of contributed code. Their respective communities are nowadays no longer exclusively composed of academic researchers and scientists, but also of professionals of all sorts of backgrounds, especially since the industry and corporate world have understood the added value of ‘community driven software’ and started to plug open source tools into their processes and corporate tissue.
On top of this, actuaries are confronted with the same issues as academic researchers and scientists: the production of readable, shareable and reproducible code and results. In the actuarial community, R already is a fairly known and used open source language, Python however a little bit less, even if it's also packed with potential and even if it disposes of a vast biosphere of its own. This workshop will also focus on the 'scientific stack' of both R and Python and draw some comparisons between both worlds where we will try to show that it’s not a matter of choosing between both ecosystems but of choosing the best of both (continuously evolving) worlds.
Organised by the EAA – European Actuarial Academy.
This training is suited for all actuaries who like to broaden their existing IT toolset. Basic knowledge regarding data analysis and/or development of actuarial tools is useful, yet not required.
Attendees are encouraged to bring a laptop computer with R and Python installed (*).
- One can install R from www.r-project.org/. As the editor we’ll be using ‘RStudio’, which can be installed from www.rstudio.com/
- One can install Python in numerous ways but the easiest way is to install the ‘all-in’ distribution Anaconda ((www.anaconda.com/, choose the default “Python 3.x” version). With anaconda installed, one has also the possibility to add R and ‘RStudio’ to the anaconda environment as one can notice in the ‘Anaconda Navigator’.
(*) prior to the training, we will supply the participants with an exhaustive list of packages/libraries that need to be installed additionally to the above tools, as well as a description of how to install them.
Please check with your IT department if your firewall and computer settings support web session participation (the programme Zoom is used for the web session). Please also make sure that you are joining the web session with a stable internet connection.
Purpose and Nature
The goal of this two-day training is to introduce the participants to both open source ecosystems and to get a good understanding of both languages. However, since both ecosystems are way too vast to be covered in merely two days, the participants will be asked to go through the basics of both languages themselves, prior to the web session. During the first three hours of the web session, these basics which will be shortly revised, but at a higher pace. The course material, containing the basics of both languages, will be provided by the organizers several weeks before the beginning of the web session, such that the participants will have plenty of time to go through the material at her/his ease.
As such, less time needs to be spent on the basic elements of both languages, hereby enabling us to organize a three-hour hands-on exercise session to more easily assimilate the course material. Note that the participants need to bring along a laptop on which both R and Python are installed. Instructions on how to do so, will be provided by the organizers at the same moment as the course material of R and Python basics, hence several weeks in advance.
As a result, a jump start on how to truly use these languages in practice will be provided to the participants, by focusing on solutions for problems that they will surely regularly encounter in their day-to-day job, by handing over lots of links to online resources and a very rich course material and by even organizing hands-on exercise sessions.
The language of the web session will be English.
Luc Kesters is a consulting life actuary and the last 20 years he’s working with Vereycken & Vereycken, a Belgian based insurance software development and consultancy company, on actuarial and IT related jobs with a strong focus on reporting and portfolio migrations. During his career IT solutions and technology have always taken up an important part of his work. In that context, he uses Python amongst others on a daily basis.
Robin Van Oirbeek
Robin Van Oirbeek, after working as a statistical/actuarial consultant for different companies, is now working as a Senior Data Scientist at DKV Belgium. He is invited lecturer at UCLouvain. He uses R, amongst others, on a daily basis and this for over 15 years now.