StatServer analyzes situation

StatServer 2.0 brings World Wide Web publishing capabilities to the S-Plus statistical
data mining tools from MathSoft Inc. of Cambridge, Mass.


Built for sharing multidimensional data sets over intranets or the Internet, StatServer
performs more than 2,000 analysis and visualization functions, MathSoft officials said.


The S-Plus 4.0 statistical data mining tools do exploratory data analysis,
visualization and statistical modeling, all of which aid analysts in generating
hypotheses, said Rick Bohdanowicz, vice president and general manager of MathSoft's Data
Analysis Product Division.


Online analytical processing tools differ, he said, because they aid in verifying
hypotheses, not generating them.


S-Plus has high-level users within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
National Institutes of Health, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Food and Drug
Administration, and Federal Reserve Board, Bohdanowicz said.


Several dozen Federal Reserve Board members regularly use S-Plus tools to analyze
what's going on with currency markets, interest rates and equities, he said.


As a practical application, StatServer is useful for predicting outbreaks of seasonal
viruses. It also identifies and shares evidence of lab batch drift in clinical trials,
Bohdanowicz said.


"Pharmaceutical problems tend to be nonlinear and demand nonlinear techniques and
models," he said.


S-Plus is written in the object-oriented S language developed by Lucent Technologies
Inc. of Murray Hill, N.J., for data visualization and exploratory data analysis.


In addition to S-Plus, StatServer contains an analytical object server, object
development kit, object client package and templates for clients.


Tim Myers, a systems analyst at the National Cancer Institute, has tried out StatServer
as well as SAS/IntrNet from SAS Institute Inc. of Cary, N.C., for dynamic Web page access
to NCI's chemosensitivity testing database.


The testing database would serve the public better if it provided online analytical
processing capabilities instead of predesigned reports, he said.


"We've got some simple programs set up to do that now, but we're working toward
better object models and better flexibility for users on the public side," Myers
said.


Government researchers and people who submit compounds to be tested all have a vested
interest in seeing how their results compare with others, he said.


So far, the SAS/IntrNet software is a more flexible tool for building dynamic Web
pages, Myers said. But SAS/IntrNet lacks the graphics capabilities that attracted him to
S-Plus and StatServer, he said.


StatServer runs under Microsoft Windows NT Server.


It is priced by server CPU and analytic processes, typically translating into prices of
$200 to $500 per user.


Contact MathSoft at 206-283-8802.


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