Archive for INLA

Bayes 250th versus Bayes 2.5.0.

Posted in Books, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 20, 2013 by xi'an

More than a year ago Michael Sørensen (2013 EMS Chair) and Fabrizzio Ruggeri (then ISBA President) kindly offered me to deliver the memorial lecture on Thomas Bayes at the 2013 European Meeting of Statisticians, which takes place in Budapest today and the following week. I gladly accepted, although with some worries at having to cover a much wider range of the field rather than my own research topic. And then set to work on the slides in the past week, borrowing from my most “historical” lectures on Jeffreys and Keynes, my reply to Spanos, as well as getting a little help from my nonparametric friends (yes, I do have nonparametric friends!). Here is the result, providing a partial (meaning both incomplete and biased) vision of the field.

Since my talk is on Thursday, and because the talk is sponsored by ISBA, hence representing its members, please feel free to comment and suggest changes or additions as I can still incorporate them into the slides… (Warning, I purposefully kept some slides out to preserve the most surprising entry for the talk on Thursday!)

R.I.P. Emile…

Posted in Mountains, pictures, Running, Statistics, Travel, University life, Wines with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 5, 2013 by xi'an

IMG_0272I was thus in Montpellier for a few days, working with Jean-Michel Marin and attending the very final meeting of our ANR research group called Emile…  The very same group that introduced us to ABC in 2005. We had a great time, discussing about DIYABC.2, ABC for SNPs, and other extensions with our friend Arnaud Estoup, enjoying an outdoor dinner on the slopes of Pic Saint-Loup and a wine tasting on the way there, listening to ecological modelling this morning from elephant tracking [using INLA] to shell decoration in snails [using massive MCMC], running around Crès lake in the warm rain, and barely escaping the Tour de France on my way to the airport!!!IMG_0274

ISBA on INLA [webinar]

Posted in R, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , on April 3, 2013 by xi'an

If you have missed the item of information, Håvard Rue is giving an ISBA webinar tomorrow on INLA:

the ISBA Webinar on INLA is scheduled for April 4th, 2013
from 8:30 - 12:30 EDT.

To join the online meeting (Now from mobile devices using the Cisco WebEx
Meeting App)

1. Go to
2. Enter the meeting number  730 293 070 and click Join Now
3. Enter your name and email address, the meeting password and
click "Join Now"

A recording of the webinar will be provided shortly after the event.

Please verify that your computer is capable of connecting using WebEx at

or see  if you are having
trouble connecting.

latent Gaussian model workshop in Reykjavik

Posted in Mountains, R, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , on March 29, 2013 by xi'an

An announcement for an Icelandic meeting next September, meeting I would have loved to attend (darn!)… This meeting is sponsored by the BayesComp session, of course!!!

We are pleased to announce that the University of Iceland will host the 3rd Workshop on Bayesian Inference for Latent Gaussian Models with Applications (LGM).

The workshop will be held in Reykjavik, Iceland, on September 12-14 2013 at Harpa ~V Reykjavik Concert Hall and Conference Centre:

The emphasized topics of LGM 2013 are:
-Machine learning
-Spatial and spatio-temporal modeling
-Bayesian non-parametrics
-Latent Gaussian models
-The workshop is not restricted to these topics

The invited speakers are:
-Matthias Katzfuß at Universität Heidelberg
-Bani Mallick at Texas A&M University
-Peter Müller at University of Texas
-Michèle Sebag at INRIA Saclay, CNRS
-Matthias Seeger at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
-Christopher Wikle at University of Missouri

Registration fees:
Early bird fee before May 21th ~@ 375
Registration fee after May 21th ~@ 440
Student fee ~@ 250

Detailed information on the scientific program, conference field trip, organizing committee, scientific committee and meeting registration is available on the conference web-site:

LGM 2012, Trondheim

Posted in Mountains, pictures, Running, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , on May 31, 2012 by xi'an

A break from the “snapshots from Guérande” that will be a relief for all ‘ Og readers, I am sure: I am now in Trondheim, Norway, for the second Latent Gaussian model meeting, organised by Håvard Rue and his collaborators. As in the earlier edition in Zürich, the main approach to those models (that is adopted in the talks) is the INLA methodology of Rue, Martino and Chopin. I nonetheless (given the theme) gave a presentation on Rao-Blackwellisation techniques for MCMC algorithms. As I had not printed the program of the meeting prior to my departure (blame Guérande!), I had not realised I had only 20 minutes for my talk and kept adding remarks and slides during the flight from Amsterdam to Trondheim [where the clouds prevented me from seeing Jotunheimen]. (So I had to cut the second half of the talk below on parallelisation. Even with this cut, the 20 minutes went awfully fast!) Apart from my talk, I am afraid I was not in a sufficient state of awareness [due to a really early start] to give a comprehensive of the afternoon talks….

Trondheim is a nice city that sometimes feels like a village despite its size. Walking up to the university along typical wooden houses, then going around the town and along the river tonight while running a 10k loop left me with the impression of a very pleasant place (at least in the summer months).

Bayes on drugs (guest post)

Posted in Books, R, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , on May 21, 2012 by xi'an

This post is written by Julien Cornebise.

Last week in Aachen was the 3rd Edition of the Bayes(Pharma) workshop. Its specificity: half-and-half industry/academic participants and speakers, all in Pharmaceutical statistics, with a great care to welcome newcomers to Bayes, so as to spread as much as possible the love where it will actually be used. First things first: all the slides are available online, thanks to the speakers for sharing those. Full disclaimer: being part of the scientific committee of the workshop, I had a strong subjective prior.

3 days, 70 participants, we were fully booked, and even regretfully had to refuse inscriptions due to lack of room-space (!! German regulations are quite… enforced). Time to size it up for next year, maybe?

My most vivid impression overall: I was struck by the interactivity of the questions/answers after each talk. Rarely fewer than 5 questions per talk (come on, we’ve all attended sessions where the chairman is forced to ask the lone question — no such thing here!), on all points of each talk, with cross-references from one question to the other, even from one *talk* to the other! Seeing so much interaction and discussion in spite of (or, probably, thanks to ?) the diversity of the audience was a real treat: not only did the questions bring up additional details about the talk, they were, more importantly, bringing very precious highlight on the questioners’ mindsets, their practical concerns and needs. Both academics and industrials were learning on all counts — and, for having sometimes seen failed marriages of the kind in the past (either a French round-table degenerating in nasty polemic on “research-induced tax credit”, or just plain mismatch of interests), I was quite impressed that we were purely and simply all interested in multiple facets of the very same thing: the interface between pharma and stats.

As is now a tradition, the first day was a short course, this time by Pr. Emmanuel Lessaffre: based on his upcoming book on Bayesian Biostatistics (Xian, maybe a review someday?), it was meant to be introductory for newcomers to Bayes, but was still packed with enough “tricks of the trades” that even seasoned Bayesians could get something out of it. I very much appreciated the pedagogy in the “live” examples, with clear convergence caveats based on traceplots of common software (WinBUGS). The most vivid memory: his strong spotlight on INLA as “the future of Bayesian computation”. Although my research is mostly on MCMC/SMC, I’m now damn curious to give it a serious try — this was further reinforced by late evening discussions with Gianluca BaioM, who revealed that all his results that were all obtained in seconds of INLA computing.

Day 2 and half-day 3 were invited and contributed talks, all motivated by top-level applications. No convergence theorems here, but practical issues, with constraints that theoreticians (including myself!) would hardly guess exist: very small sample sizes, regulatory issues, concurrence with legacy methodology with only seconds-long runtime (impossible to run 1 million MCMC steps!), and sometimes even imposed software due to validation processes! Again, as stated above, the number and quality of questions is really what I will keep from those 2 days.

If I had to state one regret, maybe, it would be this unsatisfactory feeling that, for many newcomers, MCMC = WinBUGS — with its obvious restrictions. The lesson I learned: all the great methodological advances of the last 10 years, especially in Adaptive MCMC, have not yet reached most practitioners yet, since they need *tools* they can use. It may be a sign that, as methodological researchers, we should maybe put a stronger emphasis on bringing software packages forward (for R, of course, but also for JAGS or OpenBUGS!); not only a zip-file with our article’s codes, but a full-fledged package, with ongoing support, maintenance, and forum. That’s a tough balance to find, since the time maintaining a package does not count in the holy-bibliometry… but doesn’t it have more actual impact? Besides, more packages = less papers but also = more citations of the corresponding paper. Some do take this road (Robert Gramacy’s packages were cited last week as examples of great support, and Andy Gelman and Matt Hoffman are working on the much-expected STAN, and I mentioned above Havard Rue’s R-INLA), but I don’t think it is yet considered “best practices”.

As a conclusion, this Bayes-Pharma 2012 workshop reminded me a lot of the SAMSI 2010 Summer Program: while Bayes-Pharma aims to be much more introductory, they had in common this same success in blending pharma-industry and academy. Could it be a specificity of pharma? In which case, I’m looking very much forward opening ISBA’s Specialized Section on Biostat/Pharmastat that a few colleagues and I are currently working on (more on this here soon). With such a crowd on both sides of the Atlantic, and a looming Bayes 2013 in the Netherlands, that will be exciting.

internal workshop in Montpellier

Posted in pictures, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , on November 18, 2011 by xi'an

Today was a meeting day for our research (ANR) network EMILE and I flew to Montpellier in the early morning, barely catching my 7am flight by a mere 8 minutes, thanks to a huge unannounced gap (more than 30mn!) in the distribution of the metro trains… Anyway, it was a very nice day with interesting talks on on-going researchs by several members of the network, including a new type of (non-ABC) approximation for phylogenetic trees, INLA on genotype distribution, Bayesian tree estimation with SNP data, and the new version of the DIYABC software. (Jean-Michel Marin and I also presented our recent work on ABC model choice and advertised the incoming Read Paper on ABC methods to the group, as they could contribute to the discussion.) One of the talks involved the pseudo-Bayes factors (CPO) of Geisser and Eddy discussed recently in connection with the book reviews of both Bayesian ideas and data analysis and Bayesian modeling using WinBUGS. Unfortunately, again estimated by an harmonic mean


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