Genstat development in difficult times

By Roger Payne | October 21, 2020

The AASC conference is always a highlight for us at VSN, and it is a real disappointment that we cannot meet this year. Nevertheless it is good to be able to keep in touch by email, MS Teams and Zoom - and to know that you are keeping safe.

The Genstat team is dispersed over the two hemispheres, and so we are used to collaborating at a distance. Genstat development has continued almost unaffected, and I am glad to have this opportunity to tell you what we have been doing. We are developing Genstat-based apps for future cloud services, which we shall be able to demonstrate when we can next meet together. The main activity, though, has been to complete the 21st Edition of Genstat.

A major focus of the 21st Edition has been to provide new menus and procedures to help determine the appropriate fixed terms to include in a REML analysis. This is a weak point of all REML software (including previous Genstat editions), as the focus has always been more on the randommodel. However, with wider usage of REML outside variety trials, QTL analysis etc, the fixed model is becoming more important. You can now explore the model by adding and dropping terms, just as you would in ordinary regression. You can also fit all subsets, and use statistics such as the Akaike or Schwarz Bayesian Information Coefficients to decide on the best model.

There are new menus and procedures for multi-treatment meta analysis based on summary results from the individual experiments, for response surfaces and for separation plots. There are also many minor extensions, including the ability to provide BLUPs from ANOVA.

Design is another important development area, and we have new commands to construct augmented block designs and doubly resolvable row-column designs, which should be very useful in all our core biological areas and especially variety trials.

Other new commands allow you to obtain details of the syntax of commands and the source code of procedures stored in a procedure library. This will be especially useful for the support calls that sometimes occur, where the user still has the library but has lost the original source. The source can now be recovered for updates and modification. These provide the basis for new menus to encourage use of Genstat’s commands. You can insert standard sections of code into a text box, for example for loops and if-blocks. There is also a menu where you can enter the options and parameters for a command to use any directive or procedure.

So Genstat’s life goes on in these difficult times. Please keep safe until Covid 19 is less of a danger, so that we can meet again in 2022.