Wednesday, November 19, 2014

PSPP a SPSS clone

Today’s software review PSPP, an SPSS clone.

PSPP is a statistical software package that offers compatibility with SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences). SPSS is a well known statistical software package that is used in junior college stats classes, for econ majors in college or even for doctoral candidates doing research. Both SPSS and PSPP are for statisticians, social scientists and students requiring easy analysis of sampled data. The following is a quick and dirty comparison of the two applications.

PSPP A brief list of some of the features of PSPP follows:

  • Supports over 1 billion cases.
  • Supports over 1 billion variables.
  • Syntax and data files are compatible with SPSS.
  • Choice of terminal or graphical user interface.
  • Choice of text, postscript or HTML output formats.
  • Inter-operates with Gnumeric, LibreOffice. Org and other free software.
  • Easy data import from spreadsheets, text files and database sources.
  • Fast statistical procedures, even on very large data sets.
  • No license fees.
  • No expiration period.
  • No unethical “end user license agreements”.
  • Fully indexed user manual.
  • Free Software; licensed under GPLv3 or later.
  • Cross platform; Runs on Windows, Mac and Unix-like systems.
Further PSPP offers the following functionality:
  • Descriptive statistics, cross tabs and other data exploration features
  • t-tests (one sample, independent samples and paired samples)
  • One way ANOVA
  • Chi-square and binomial tests
  • Bivariate correlations
  • Linear regression
  • Factor analysis
  • Reliability analysis
  • ROC curves

SPSS on the other hand has a variety of tools that easily outnumber the functionality found in PSPP. Here is a sample of SPSS core feature set.
  • Data transformations
  • Data Examination
  • Descriptive Statistics
  • Contingency tables
  • Reliability tests
  • Correlation
  • T tests
  • General Linear Model (Release 7.0 and higher)
  • Regression
  • Nonlinear Regression
  • Logistic Regression
  • Loglinear Regression
  • Discriminant Analysis
  • Factor Analysis
  • Cluster analysis
  • Multidimensional scaling
  • Probit analysis
  • Forecasting/Time Series
  • Survival analysis
  • Nonparametric analysis
  • Graphics and graphical interface

On the surface some would argue that PSPP isn’t ready for prime 

time, given that SPSS has many more features. But keep in mind 

that for the vast majority of users, PSPP provides all the basic 

functionality that a typical user would need. Furthermore, PSPP is 

compatible with SPSS proprietary file format, so a user could use 

PSPP to manipulate SPSS files. For those who need functionality 

that goes beyond PSPP, there are free alternatives that are better 

that SPSS. One free statistical application of note is R, which is a 

programming language that is designed for statistical computing. 

For the minority of users who want total and complete control of 

data analysis and data mining, R is considered by many best of 

breed in the field of statistical computing. For the rest of us, PSPP 

is a free alternative to SPSS worth considering. Oh, by the way . . . 

did I mention that PSPP is free. Give it a try!

Friday, November 14, 2014 – a drop in replacement for Microsoft Office Suite

LibreOffice suite is comprised of the following applications:

Writer (word processor)

Calc (spreadsheet)

Impress (presentation tool)

Draw (drawing tool)

Base (database tool)

Math (equation & formula editor)

LibreOffice suite has a similar look and feel of Microsoft Office Suite due to a similar graphic user interface.  The layout of key functions will be familiar to user of the Microsoft Office.  In terms of function, LibreOffice is a capable replacement for Microsoft Office.  Also worth mentioning is that LibreOffice is available for Windows, Mac OSX, Linux & BSD Unix.  Further LibreOffice has a couple of features that you wont find in the Microsoft offering.  First, LibreOffice can produce PDFs.  Microsoft can produce PDF, but at a price.  Second, LibreOffice has an integrated drawing program, called Draw.  Third, LibreOffice also has a mathematics and equation editor called Math.  I found that the Math application to be useful ( I am currently working on my dissertation) and compliments nicely with another free libre open source software application called PSPP (a drop in replacement for SPSS). 

As much as I like LibreOffice, there are some areas of concern.  LibreOffice does a fairly good job at dealing with Microsoft's proprietary file formats: docx, pptx & xlsx.  However, the rendering of Microsoft documents isn't always perfect.  Further, macros and fancy Power Point transitions designed for Microsoft Office Suite, usually don't work well in LibreOffice.  However, LibreOffice does have the ability to produce macros and the process is straightforward.  As for Power Point presentations, Impress will provide basic functionality, however if you need fancy transitions and such, it would be better to edit you old Power Point presentations in Impress or just create the presentation in Impress.

All in all, LibreOffice suite will address the needs of most people, handle proprietary file formats fairly well and provide the user with a familiar experience with very short learning curve.  So give LibreOffice a try!  Did I mention that its free?