Here we are with another full issue of CHEER, again a little later than planned I am afraid. My apologies for that.
My editorial in the November 1995 issue of CHEER, where I took a swipe at the Central Statistical Office for holding back free and user-friendly access to their data, provoked quite a response. I was contacted by Philip Powell who is Director of Marketing and Customer Services at the CSO (soon to be known as the "Office for National Statistics" after its merger with the OPCS in April) who felt that I had been unfair in my criticisms. I replied that I believed that the view I was expressing was not only my own, but one shared by many other economists. My only regret was that I had quoted the comments of Denise Lievesley, the Director of the ESRC Data Archive, without first checking with her and I have apologised to her for that. However, I do appear to have succeeded in opening up a debate about how data services and access to them should develop in the future. I am pleased to print in full Philip Powell's response to my editorial in the "Right of Reply" section. I would be interested to receive feedback from CHEER readers for publication in future issues of the review.
In this issue of CHEER we have two very interesting pieces by Barry Murphy; one is the second in his series of case studies for economists in the use of DERIVE, this time exploring its potential for dealing with non-linear least squares problems; the other provides examples of the use of Scientific Workplace (SWP) for composing, calculating and typesetting mathematical text. In true WYSIWYG style this article has been produced entirely with SWP (with the exception of the CHEER footer which has been overprinted).
An interesting theme which is developed both in the paper by Arnold Katz and in my report of the computing sessions at the ASSA meetings is the issue of how students learn when using computer software. Modern computer hardware and software gives us the possibility of keeping track of what students are doing and as Katz shows it can be most revealing. If any CHEER readers have conducted other studies along these lines I should be very pleased to consider them for publication.
There is another spreadsheet application (Ray Thomas uses Excel for some real interest rate calculations), my report on the computing sessions at the ASSA meetings in San Francisco and a full set of software and book reviews.
Department of Economics, University of Portsmouth