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Session 15 OF, Unpacking the Actuary's Technical Toolkit. Moderator: Albert Jeffrey Moore, ASA, MAAA


Academic year: 2021

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Session 15 OF, Unpacking the Actuary's Technical Toolkit Moderator:

Albert Jeffrey Moore, ASA, MAAA


Melissa Boudreau, FCAS

Albert Jeffrey Moore, ASA, MAAA Christopher Kenneth Peek Yonasan Schwartz, FSA, MAAA


Session 15: Unpacking the Actuary’s

Technical Toolkit

Presenters: Chris Peek

Yonasan Schwartz, FSA, MAAA

Moderator: Albert J. Moore, ASA, MAAA


Actuarial Uses for Microsoft Access

Yonasan Schwartz




What is Access?

Access vs. Excel – pros and cons

Access basics: Tables

Access basics: Queries

Access basics: SQL


Access vs. Excel – pros and cons

Excel is better for:

– Less data

– Complex operations – Exceptions

– Processes that may


Access is better for:

– More data

– Simple operations – Consistency


Access basics: Tables

Similar to Excel spreadsheets

“Records” and “Fields” instead of rows and columns

Fields must have a data type


Access basics: Queries

Pull data from

tables (or other


Join tables

together for

powerful analysis

Based on SQL

Input and output

always in the

form of a table


Case studies

Valuation system


Session 15: Open Forum

Unpacking the Actuary’s Toolkit Presenter: Chris Peek


Advanced Excel Features

Power Pivot

– Cost effective approach for Business Intelligence – Data accumulation into Excel from multiple outside


– Extends Excel features you already know

Power View

– Feature of Excel 2013 and add-in for SQL SSRS for

SharePoint Servers

– Data visualization and reporting tool – Integrates with Power Pivot workbooks


PowerPivot Demonstration


Why use programming to solve problems?

Actuarial problems complex many involve:

– Stochastic calculations – Large data sets

– Iterative techniques

– Require advanced statistical measures

Can use both Excel and programming languages to

prototype calculations for later inclusion in company

production processes

Useful to test 3


party bespoke applications


Common Actuarial Programming Options

What’s available

Language Cost C#/C++ $$$ VB.NET $$$ VBA Free VB Script Free R Free MATLAB $$$ Mathematica $$$ APL $$$ SAS $$$ 14


Insights from an Actuarial Software Vendor

Actuaries from my firm have used all of the

applications discussed. Their key comments include:

– All programming requires the development of “Best

Practices” for coding, testing and version control

– Don’t reinvent the wheel. If there is code out there, use it!

• This is particularly true with the open source languages (e.g. “R”)

– Be careful that your “ad-hoc” program doesn’t become the

“standard process”

– As an organization, commit to a specific programming



What is “R”?

R is a free open source programming platform

– Data analysis software suited for:

• Statistical analysis • Predictive modeling • Data visualization

– R community is large and active with more than 2000

add-in packages available for free download

– Lots of free resources to learn R and jumpstart a project

– Python is another open source language gaining traction as

an easier to learn, intuitive application.


R Console

• Direct execution of code from the console, no compilation

• Use of the R command line console allows for interactive exploration of a data set as well as on the fly graphics and plotting

• Extensive number of ready to use packages. CRAN (Comprehensive R Archive Network) is a network of ftp sites storing up-to-date versions of code and documentation


Key R Capabilities

Statistical Modeling


Big Data Analytics

Machine Learning

Dynamic Graphics


R Visualizations

Ready made

packages in R

– Example: ggvis for graphics – Can integrate with other R packages – Diverse set of graphing charts and plots 19


Getting started in R

Clear use of R with your IT professionals

Free online courses

Tons of YouTube tutorials

The R Project for Statistical Computing

• www.r-project.org


Useful Utilities for the Actuary

Beyond Compare

– Comparison tool for files and folders

• Can do byte-by-byte comparisons

– Synchronize folders

• Data reconciliation

• Command line scripting for automating tasks

– Can be used for version control activities

• Compare log files of meta data

• Comparisons for different types of files

– EXE files – Binary


Useful Utilities for the Actuary


– Developed by Central Washington University

– Cluster Sampling Technique for Tail Estimation of

Probability (CSTEP)

– Supports four sampling methods:

• Euclidean Distance Method • Significance Method

• Present Value Distance Method • Economic Value Distance Method

– CSTEP is a desktop application with a reasonable amount

of documentation


Useful Utilities for the Actuary


– Computer Algebra System

– Open Source

– Specializes in solving

symbolic mathematical equations

• Integration

• Partial and total


• Automatic simplification

• Large number factorization

• Manipulation of large



Useful Utilities for the Actuary


– Freeware with BASIC-style scripting to allow for


– Large user community, good help files

– Simulates key-strokes and mouse movements – Interacts with all standard Windows controls

– Used to help automate manual, repetitive processes in 3rd

party applications:

• Example: Update tables in other Windows applications


Useful Utilities for the Actuary


ortality and








XtbML format

The value of standard formats

– Facilitates Automated processing – Portability

– Independent of Platform – Simple Text Files

– A persistent International Standard


Useful References

• http://www.mathworks.com/products/ (MATLAB)

• https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn594433.aspx (Business Intelligence and Analysis Tools) • https://www.coursera.org/course/rprog (Free online R Programming Course)

• http://www.inside-r.org/packages/ (Free packages for use with R) • http://scootersoftware.com/ (Beyond Compare)

• http://maxima.sourceforge.net/ (MAXIMA)

• https://prezi.com/fqkfu4jk0ott/cstep-scenario-reduction-for-model-efficiency/(CSTEP Presentation) • http://www.cwu.edu/~chueh/cstep_1.0.3.zip(CSTEP Application)

• https://www.autoitscript.com/site/ (AutoIt Site)


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