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The second gretl conference took place took place at Nicolaus Copernicus University, Toruń, Poland, on 16-17 June 2011. Thanks go to Tadeusz Kufel, Paweł Kufel and Marcin Błażejowski for organizing a fine event. Details here.
The first gretl conference took place at the University of the Basque Country, Bilbao, Spain, May 28-29, 2009: details. Many thanks to the organizers, Ignacio Díaz-Emparanza and Petr Mariel, for a very enjoyable and productive event.
In April 2005 I (Allin Cottrell, lead developer of gretl) visited three European universities where gretl is used intensively, and where people have made a significant contribution to the program. We discussed gretl's future and I gave talks to students and faculty on gretl and free software. To gretl enthusiasts at other sites: Sorry I didn't manage to visit you on this occasion, but I look forward to meeting more of you in future!
It was very enjoyable and productive to meet in person people with whom I've only corresponded by email. My main contacts were Riccardo “Jack” Lucchetti at the Università Politecnica delle Marche, Ancona; Ignacio Díaz-Emparanza, Universidad del País Vasco - Euskal Herriko Unibersitatea, Bilbao; and Tadeusz and Paweł Kufel at Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń. My wife accompanied me on this trip and we both had a great time. Our thanks go to all concerned for their kind hospitality. Below are some pictures and comments on the discussions we had.
Riccardo "Jack" Lucchetti and Allin, Jack's office, Ancona.
Jack has made a substantial contribution to gretl (including ARMA modeling, Tobit, Poisson, time-series filters and fractional differencing). He's currently working on structural VARs, and has ideas about how these could be implemented in gretl. He's also an enthusiastic ox coder, and would like to see an open-source implementation of the ox interpreter; we plan to see if we can interest any gcc people in this project. Some other things we discussed: dynamic panel data; computation of standard errors for VAR impulse response functions; encouraging wider participation in gretl development; making the forecast horizon for VAR impulse responses configurable (done). And a colleague of Jack's suggested adding the facility to import data in GNU octave format (done).
Ignacio Díaz-Emparanza and Allin: a bright, chilly evening in Plentzia.
Ignacio completed the first translation of gretl, into Spanish. I saw his students using gretl in the computer lab, and was able to trouble-shoot a few problems that were apparent there. We also did some work on processing data files from the Bank of Spain into a form suitable for use with gretl. Ignacio is keen to have seasonal ARMA added to gretl's capabilities, and I plan to work on this.
Ignacio's colleague Susan Orbe is working on a Basque translation for gretl (about half done at present). We added a command-line switch --basque, which puts the program into Basque mode.
Another of Ignacio's colleagues, Alonso Fernández Gallastegui, has written a textbook, Econometría, which uses gretl output to illustrate various econometric points, and includes gretl on CD-ROM. The book looks good -- wish there was an English version!
Pawel Kufel, Allin and Tadeusz Kufel, Torun, in front of one of the old city gates
Tadeusz Kufel and his son Pawel have been strong champions for gretl in Poland. They have a very well organized website that includes Polish data for gretl and a link to Tadeusz's gretl-based textbook, Ekonometria -- another nice text that it would be great to have in English. Tadeusz has contributed many careful bug reports and suggestions for improvements; Pawel has done the Polish translation of the program.
As in Bilbao, I was able to see students working with gretl on Windows in a computer lab, and again various improvements suggested themselves.
Tadeusz showed me the access statistics for his site, which indicate growing popularity of gretl at several Polish universities -- thanks to his efforts.
At Torun I also spoke with Marcin Blazejowski, comparing notes on getting gretl's LaTeX output to work properly in Polish mode. Marcin is also a database expert, and we spoke of the possibility of getting gretl to import data from various sorts of relational databases, with the help of PostgreSQL.
This trip has given me a real sense of a developing gretl community. We now have to figure out where we go from here to develop the community further.