Aug 31, 2017 Meeting

Past Meeting

Download Greg’s Presentation
Download John’s Presentation

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

12:30 PM (Registration)
1:0 – 4:00 PM (Meeting)

Genentech, Inc.
475 East Grand Avenue
South San Francisco, CA 94080
Building 42, Room SSF- 42-1D

Facility Host:
Chandra Mannem

Event Host:
Thomas Leung (415) 956-3611

Speaker 1

Greg Steffens, Noumena Solutions

SAS Coding Techniques for Meta-Programmers


I introduced the concepts of metadata and meta-programming in previous presentations, to define how standards are just a component of a larger solution. Today’s presentation will get into more details about the SAS coding techniques used in meta-programming to create highly reusable SAS macros.

These SAS coding techniques go beyond those that are commonly used in single-use study programming and represent a way to attain very high levels of automation. An example project of creating define.xml files will be used in the presentation, to show how SAS programmers can create macros that are easy to use and that get the job done fast, correctly and transparently!

About the Speaker:

Greg Steffens has been using SAS for programming and applications development since 1981, primarily in the pharmaceutical and health insurance industries. He has held job positions ranging from lead technical to director-level management in seven pharmaceutical companies.

Greg’s experience includes the design and development of metadata and software to automate data definition, data transformation, data validation and FDA submissions.

Speaker 2

John F. McGowan, Mathematical Software

Automating Complex Data Analysis for Fun, Profit, and the Greater Good


Complex data analysis attempts to solve problems with one or more inputs and one or more outputs related by complex mathematical rules, usually a sequence of two or more non-linear functions applied iteratively to the inputs and intermediate computed values. A prominent example is determining the causes and possible treatments for poorly understood diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and autism spectrum disorders where multiple genetic and environmental factors may contribute to the disease and the disease has multiple symptoms and metrics, e.g. blood pressure, heart rate, and heart rate variability.

A widely cited report from the McKinsey management consulting firm suggests that the United States may face a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 such human analysts by 2018:

This talk discusses the current state-of-the-art in attempts to automate complex data analysis. It discusses widely used tools such as SAS and MATLAB and their current limitations. It discusses what the automation of complex data analysis may look like in the future, possible methods of automating complex data analysis, and problems and pitfalls of automating complex data analysis. The talk will include a demonstration of a prototype system for automating complex data analysis including automated generation of SAS analysis code.

About the Speaker:

John F. McGowan, Ph.D. solves problems using mathematics and mathematical software, including developing gesture recognition for touch devices, video compression and speech recognition technologies. He has extensive experience developing software in C, C++, MATLAB, Python, Visual Basic and many other programming languages.

He has been a Visiting Scholar at HP Labs developing computer vision algorithms and software for mobile devices. He has worked as a contractor at NASA Ames Research Center involved in the research and development of image and video processing algorithms and technology.

He has published articles on the origin and evolution of life, the exploration of Mars (anticipating the discovery of methane on Mars), and cheap access to space. He has also worked for a number of startup companies and Apple. He has a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a B.S. in physics from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).