Introduction to Conducting Simulations in R

A three-day introductory course in conducting simulations in R took place at the University of Rwanda College of Business and Economics (UR-CBE), African Centre of Excellence in Data Science (ACE-DS) from July 8 – 11, 2019. In total, the course had 14 participants: 11 PhD students at ACE-DS, 2 senior lecturers, and 1 senior researcher at the University of Rwanda.

The course, entitled “Introduction to Conducting Simulations in R”, is a short course that was developed as a collaboration between Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (HCSPH) and UR-CBE, ACE-DS. The objective of the course was to provide an introduction to conducting simulations in R, an increasingly important tool in theoretical and applied research. The students learned how to code their own simulations to, for example, evaluate model performance under violations of the model assumptions or carry out power analyses. Sara Sauer, PhD student in Biostatistics at HCSPH and Muhammed Semakula, PhD student in Statistics and Data Science at the University of Rwanda and the University of Hasselt, developed the course materials and facilitated the first implementation of the course, which covered the following topics:

  1. Background and motivation for conducting simulations
  2. Generating random variables in R
  3. Setting up a simulation
  4. Using simulation to check statistical theory
  5. Using simulation to evaluate operating characteristics
  6. Simulating data for model evaluation
  7. Running and interpreting simulations when varying multiple parameters

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the management of ACE-DS (Dr. Charles Ruranga and Dr. Ignace Kabano) at the University of Rwanda, who helped ensure that the training went smoothly, and provided funds to help support in-country costs of teaching the course. We would also like to express our gratitude to Drs. Marcello Pagano and Bethany Hedt-Gauthier, for providing guidance in the preparation of materials for the course.