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Event Highlights

Practitioners of data discovery from across Japan gather at this year’s Discovery Summit in Tokyo

From ghost stories to a little bit of traditional magic, the fourth annual Discovery Summit Japan held last week in Tokyo proved that even for the analytically-minded, there’s still an art to the science of statistics. This year’s conference saw record participation as more than 300 engineers, scientists, researchers and educators from around Japan converged on the Grand Hyatt Tokyo for a day of knowledge sharing and discussion.

It was not long after the doors opened that SAS co-founder John Sall took the stage to warn of the challenges of dealing with ‘ghost data.’ In this first plenary session of the day, Sall said that missing or virtual data is a reality that shouldn’t go overlooked. Any diligent practitioner of statistics, he advised, will develop a thoughtful strategy for dealing with holes in a data set from the start, before building a model or running an analysis. A cautionary tale from one JMP user – or rather, JMP’s principal user and architect – to another.

As the Summit got into full swing, participants had the opportunity to choose from an impressive schedule of breakout sessions. Among these presentations, the semiconductor and pharmaceutical industries were well represented; one speaker presented strategies for dealing with big data in manufacturing, another discussed new thinking on process optimization. There were also a number of hard-hitting talks given by professors from some of Japan’s most elite universities and graduate programs.

Even outside of these sessions, there was a hum of activity. JMP Systems Engineers from near and far staffed the conference’s ‘Ask the Experts’ station where long-time JMP users and newcomers alike dropped in to learn not just about JMP but about the whole suite of products: JMP Pro, JMP Clinical and JMP Genomics. Conference posters also proved to be a popular conversation starter; one could read about interesting use cases and then discuss potential applications with others in the field.

The final plenary of the day was delivered by Dr. Hiroshi Nishiura of Hokkaido University’s Graduate School of Medicine. In his thought-provoking presentation, Nishiura demonstrated one very relevant way in which statistical thinking is being used to improve lives in a real way through the study of infectious disease. Before technological advancements in medicine instigated the explosion of data in recent years, he said, statistical approaches were not possible in the way they are today. Now, epidemiology researchers use statistical modeling to better understand risk and predict transmission patterns. These insights can then guide public health policymaking so as to limit and contain a potential outbreak.

As with every Discovery Summit, the day ended with a lively wrap-up party. The evening’s festivities featured artisan candymakers and a troupe of roving practitioners of tezuma, or Japanese traditional magic.

Discovery Summit Japan is part of a global conference series hosted by the JMP Division of SAS Institute and designed to inspire innovation through the use of interactive and visual data analysis. You can find papers, posters and videos from 2017 Discovery Summit Japan in the JMP User Community.

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