This photo has nothing to do with the workshop. I did some hiking after the workshop and found this huge boiling cauldron of water in the land of fire and ice. The landscapes were amazing with so much geothermal activity, old lava fields, and water falls.
The main purpose of my trip to Iceland was to work September 18-22 with eleven other developers on the statistical software Automatic Differentiation Model Builder (ADMB) at the University of Iceland and the Marine Research Institute in Reykjavik, Iceland. ADMB is useful for fitting nonlinear models and has the flexibility to fit random effects. It’s nearly as flexible as MCMC methods like WinBUGS, but much faster and without the need for specifying prior information (it’s really cool!).
It’s so much easier to get everyone engaged in a discussion and making decisions when we’re all working in the same room, rather than over email when we’re spread out over the corners of the earth. Since we had developers coming from North America and Europe, Iceland was a good midway point, and we had an excellent Icelandic host.
We discussed many important decisions for how to move forward with the software including documentation, parallelization, the most efficient linear algebra libraries, optimizers, links to R, and potentially moving to Github. We’re working to make the documentation easier for new users and writing an introduction aimed especially at R users. We discussed teaching workshops in the near future. We have one scheduled at the International Statistical Ecology Conference and we’re interested in teaching to other groups as well. Let me know if you’re interested.