12 August 2008
Reviewed by Felix Grant
GenStat is one of those packages with a reliable and road mapped programme of regular updates. Since Scientific Computing World reviews for previous versions remain available here on the website, to start every review from scratch in such cases makes little sense. From this release, I will start from where the previous review left off.
New since last time, then, my personal favourite new arrival is the set of six procedures for declaration, weight adjustment and estimation, node value summary, sample allocation and prediction from Self Organising Maps (SOM). These all work beautifully; I’d be even more delighted if they could be directly called from a SOM menu option. Skipping sideways at the procedure level, I would also pick out multinomial GLM fitting (avoiding the tedium of setting it up yourself) and partial or full canonical correspondence analysis, an often underused technique with potential beyond its traditional ecological niche.
Others will have different preferences and there is a spread of 26 new procedures to choose from across a wide spread of new tests, calculations, plots and so on. Moving up to the directive level, seven new arrivals cover a range from RGB bitmap plotting to QR matrix decomposition, factor analysis and minimum aberration designs. NAG subroutine library calls provide a valuable extra shot of power from a single directive.
At what may seem to be the trivial end of things, I found myself particularly impressed by the way a change in colour specification for graphics has been handled – because it encapsulates the thorough approach in progressing this product. A radical change which would impact handling of existing programs has been buffered by providing use of GET, SET and RESTORE to locally handle mixed old and new colour calls. On the same theme, a set of five functions provide colour component calculation from three (RGB, single colour or grey) start points.
GenStat upgrades have never been less than thorough, stable, significant and workmanlike progressions for one of the industry’s most serious packages; this is no exception.