Practical, extensible, and open-source actuarial modeling and analysis.

Introduction To Julia through Life Retention Analysis

In this tutorial, we will introduce basic ways of working with Julia and develop a simple working example of how to perform retention analysis in a powerful and performant manner. This extends the example from Julia as the Language of Choice for Actuaries.

Installation and Set-up

There are many ways to work with Julia and you are not limited to a certain workflow or editor environement. However, for simplicity we will focus on four things here:

  1. Installing Julia

  2. The Julia REPL

  3. Jupyter Notebooks

  4. The Visual Stuido Code Editor

Installing Julia

Julia is a free and can be downloaded from JuliaLang.org/downloads. If you have Windows, you probably want the 64-bit (installer) version. Download and install - that's it!

The Julia REPL

If your installation went well, you should be able to find Julia in your start menu. This starts the REPL or Read, Eval, Print, Loop which is a simple interface to perform calculations or run scripts. Generally, you won't need to use this but it ends up being really useful as the most powerful and extensible calculator on your computer. Learn more about the basic usage of the REPL here.

Jupyter Notebooks

Jupyter (Julia, Python, and R) notebooks have become incredibly widespread as a way to interactively edit code and do data analysis. To get started, open the Julia REPL and follow the instructions to install IJulia, which is what powers Julia for Jupypter.

Visual Studio Code

Among many tools for writing code, Visual Studio Code (free from Microsoft) has a nice Julia editor that has things like auto-completion, plot views, dataset viewer, inline results, help text, and more (similar to RStudio if that's where you are coming from). Instructions for instllation are here (you have alraedy completed step 1 at this point).

Once installed, you can create a new file and save it with a .jl extension and the environement will load the Julia integrations. From there, you can interactively run code blocks (similar to the interactivity in Jupyter) by hitting Alt +Enter.

Building the Analysis

At this point you are free to use either Jupyter or VS Code to continue the tutorial - either editor should work.