up [and down] Pöstlingberg

Posted in Mountains, pictures, Running, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 18, 2014 by xi'an

Early morning today, following my Linz guests’ advice, I went running towards the top of Pöstlingberg, a hill 250m over Linz and the Danube river. A perfect beacon that avoiding wrong turns and extra-mileage, but still a wee climb on a steep path for the last part. The reward of the view from the top was definitely worth the [mild] effort and I even had enough time to enjoy a good Austrian breakfast before my ABC talk

talk in Linz [first slide]

Posted in Mountains, pictures, Running, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 17, 2014 by xi'an

independent component analysis and p-values

Posted in pictures, Running, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 8, 2014 by xi'an

Last morning at the neuroscience workshop Jean-François Cardoso presented independent component analysis though a highly pedagogical and enjoyable tutorial that stressed the geometric meaning of the approach, summarised by the notion that the (ICA) decomposition

$X=AS$

of the data X seeks both independence between the columns of S and non-Gaussianity. That is, getting as away from Gaussianity as possible. The geometric bits came from looking at the Kullback-Leibler decomposition of the log likelihood

$-\mathbb{E}[\log L(\theta|X)] = KL(P,Q_\theta) + \mathfrak{E}(P)$

where the expectation is computed under the true distribution P of the data X. And Qθ is the hypothesised distribution. A fine property of this decomposition is a statistical version of Pythagoreas’ theorem, namely that when the family of Qθ‘s is an exponential family, the Kullback-Leibler distance decomposes into

$KL(P,Q_\theta) = KL(P,Q_{\theta^0}) + KL(Q_{\theta^0},Q_\theta)$

where θ⁰ is the expected maximum likelihood estimator of θ. (We also noticed this possibility of a decomposition in our Kullback-projection variable-selection paper with Jérôme Dupuis.) The talk by Aapo Hyvärinen this morning was related to Jean-François’ in that it used ICA all the way to a three-level representation if oriented towards natural vision modelling in connection with his book and the paper on unormalised models recently discussed on the ‘Og.

On the afternoon, Eric-Jan Wagenmaker [who persistently and rationally fight the (ab)use of p-values and who frequently figures on Andrew's blog] gave a warning tutorial talk about the dangers of trusting p-values and going fishing for significance in existing studies, much in the spirit of Andrew’s blog (except for the defence of Bayes factors). Arguing in favour of preregistration. The talk was full of illustrations from psychology. And included the line that ESP testing is the jester of academia, meaning that testing for whatever form of ESP should be encouraged as a way to check testing procedures. If a procedure finds a significant departure from the null in this setting, there is something wrong with it! I was then reminded that Eric-Jan was one of the authors having analysed Bem’s controversial (!) paper on the “anomalous processes of information or energy transfer that are currently unexplained in terms of known physical or biological mechanisms”… (And of the shocking talk by Jessica Utts on the same topic I attended in Australia two years ago.)

a day of travel

Posted in pictures, Running, Travel with tags , , , , , , on September 1, 2014 by xi'an

I had quite a special day today as I travelled through Birmingham, made a twenty minutes stop in Coventry to drop my bag in my office, went down to London to collect a most kindly loaned city-bike and took the train back to Coventry with the said bike… On my way from Bristol to Warwick, I decided to spend the night in downtown Birmingham as it was both easier and cheaper than to find accommodation on Warwick campus. However, while the studio I rented was well-designed and brand-new, my next door neighbours were not so well-designed in that I could hear them and the TV through the wall, despite top-quality ear-plugs! After a request of mine, they took the TV off but kept to the same decibel level for their uninteresting exchanges. In the morning I tried to go running in the centre of Birmingham but, as I could not find the canals, I quickly got bored and gave up. As Mark had proposed to lend me a city bike for my commuting in [and not to] Warwick, I then decided to take the opportunity of a free Sunday to travel down to London to pick the bike, change the pedals in a nearby shop, add an anti-theft device, and head back to Coventry. Which gave me the opportunity to bike in London by Abbey Road, Regent Park, and Hampstead, before [easily] boarding a fast train back to Coventry and biking up to the University of Warwick campus. (Sadly to discover that all convenience stores had closed by then… )

Avernian posts

Posted in Mountains, pictures, Running, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 31, 2014 by xi'an

avernian landscapes (#6)

Posted in Mountains, pictures, Running, Statistics, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2014 by xi'an

avernian landscapes (#5)

Posted in Mountains, pictures, Running, Statistics, Travel with tags , , , , , , on August 29, 2014 by xi'an