Stories/EwartShaw

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Ewart Shaw (J. E. H. Shaw), University of Warwick

I am a lecturer in the Statistics Department at Warwick, and J has been my main programming language since around 1992. I find J invaluable throughout my work, both because of its power (one can try new ideas very quickly) and because of its ability to handle large projects.

Research

J is a fantastic research tool. For example, I have for many years been developing numerical and graphical methods for Bayesian inference, such as the use of codes and related highly symmetrical objects to construct efficient high-dimensional numerical integration rules. J is ideal for trying out and implementing new ideas like this. I have also been developing a statistical modelling package called BINGO (Bayesian Inference: Numerical, Graphical and Other stuff) based largely on this work.

Apart from the benefits of the core J language itself, J can interface internally with highly developed existing software like LAPACK and interface externally with a front end, language or package with which the end-user may be more familiar.

Teaching

All my lecture notes (several hundred pages) are constructed using J, including the associated input to and output from free packages like Bugs, (La)TeX and R as well as commercial systems like Mathematica and SPlus. I also use J to produce hundreds of individualised assignments and corresponding answer sheets each year.

Administration

J's handling of large projects makes administrative duties easier, and even bearable. For example, my J timetabling system deals with the 200+ different modules taken by our 500+ Statistics students, and typesets timetables for the various degree courses, years, streams, lecturers and lecture theatres.

Miscellaneous

In my spare time (Ha!) I have also used J to maintain websites, manipulate images, write music, analyse board games, and solve widely varied problems & puzzles. J is fun.