Interview with Prof. Philip Miller, Ph.D, SAS GURU

Question 1

Can you please tell us about your career path and any publications or professional communications?

Prof. Philip Miler

Well, that’s a pretty wide-ranging question. I guess my career path started actually you know, in undergraduate school where I became involved with the new central computer facility that, the University installed in 1964 and I became a computer programmer as part of my undergraduate and graduate studies. And then I started working for the university computing facilities and was particularly in charge of the support for the user community and providing documentation to them as to how to use this computer.  In 1972, then I went down to the medical school to try and help the developing research that was needing statistical and computing support, and I have been at the medical school since then.

You talked about a SAS Global Users Group, just a bit of history there, in 1974 there was a gathering of what was labeled a Midwest SAS Users Conference at Abbott Laboratory and that drew about 125 people maybe something like that, mostly from around the Midwest and Tim Goodnight and John Saw and others from SAS Institute attended. And, everybody thought that was just a grand idea, and so we decided to initiate a National Conference which was then held at the beginning of 1976 down in the Orlando area. And there were about maybe 225 to 250 people who attended that, and that again seemed good, we produced the proceedings that was able to be distributed to other users, and there’s been an annual conference each year since then, which for many years called Sugi SAS Users Group International. Several years ago we rebranded it as SAS Global Forum.

In terms of publications, I have several hundred academic publications mostly having to do with medical research topics, a few having to do with SAS products. Through the years, we’ve done a lot of different subjects with SAS, including data entry systems and other analytic techniques. In the early days, SAS distributed to its user sites their actual source code, and so it was very easy to be able to write additions to SAS and really understand the depths of it that no longer is true. The world has changed, but we had a lot of fun along the way.

Question 2

Can you provide 3 valuable tips or strategies that are necessary to become a top SAS Programmer?

Prof. Philip Miler

I think the first thing is that you have to learn the basics. And I’m always surprised at the number of people who have taken a course in SAS in the University or something like that and then gotten to know only a very narrow aspect of SAS. And so, SAS really has many many different components, I don’t know anybody who has a master of all of them, but I think you first have to learn the SAS programming language.

And then secondly you need to be able to keep learning; the world changes, I started out doing SAS with punched cards, and I don’t think anybody has seen a punch card in years now. We now have integrated editors and interactively programmed SAS, and it runs on our desktop as well as servers. So you need to keep expanding your knowledge of what’s going on.

And third I think while having this kind of broad perspective you probably need to try and become particularly proficient in a particular component of it, whether, that’s as a macro Mayvin or whether it is to really understand all of that, how to do complex statistical models with PROC-NEXT for a number of other specialties that people could do. So I think those three things are probably the steps I would do.

Question 3

Which SAS procedure do you find the most useful, (do you use most often)?

Prof. Philip Miler

Well I think that these days PROC-MIXED would be my favorite because it’s a very flexible procedure for putting statistical models that have both text and random effects and that is quite applicable for many of the studies which we do in medical research and so I think that’s the one that I would say is my favorite right now.

Question 4

Any closing words?

Prof. Philip Miler

A number of years ago we thought there was a possibility to engage SAS users in sharing information, so we created sascommunity.org which is a wiki-based website that allows users to share information. It’s been particularly useful for authors of papers at the various SAS Users Group meetings, that they can put not only their paper but also a code and other kinds of things upon there, and then keep it up to date. So, a paper that may have been presented several years ago may need to be updated on what the current options and performance of a particular SAS topic. I was just going to say it. Subsequently SAS Institute itself has developed a community website that has a high volume particularly on question and answer format that is well supported and quite useful

Thank you very much.

 

#SAS #BigData #DataScience #MachineLearning #SAScommunities #SASusers #SASGrid #analytics #SASsoftware

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