Archive for Brussels

Ocean’s four!

Posted in Books, pictures, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2022 by xi'an

Fantastic news! The ERC-Synergy¹ proposal we submitted last year with Michael Jordan, Éric Moulines, and Gareth Roberts has been selected by the ERC (which explains for the trips to Brussels last month). Its acronym is OCEAN [hence the whale pictured by a murmuration of starlings!], which stands for On intelligenCE And Networks​: Mathematical and Algorithmic Foundations for Multi-Agent Decision-Making​. Here is the abstract, which will presumably turn public today along with the official announcement from the ERC:

Until recently, most of the major advances in machine learning and decision making have focused on a centralized paradigm in which data are aggregated at a central location to train models and/or decide on actions. This paradigm faces serious flaws in many real-world cases. In particular, centralized learning risks exposing user privacy, makes inefficient use of communication resources, creates data processing bottlenecks, and may lead to concentration of economic and political power. It thus appears most timely to develop the theory and practice of a new form of machine learning that targets heterogeneous, massively decentralized networks, involving self-interested agents who expect to receive value (or rewards, incentive) for their participation in data exchanges.

OCEAN will develop statistical and algorithmic foundations for systems involving multiple incentive-driven learning and decision-making agents, including uncertainty quantification at the agent’s level. OCEAN will study the interaction of learning with market constraints (scarcity, fairness), connecting adaptive microeconomics and market-aware machine learning.

OCEAN builds on a decade of joint advances in stochastic optimization, probabilistic machine learning, statistical inference, Bayesian assessment of uncertainty, computation, game theory, and information science, with PIs having complementary and internationally recognized skills in these domains. OCEAN will shed a new light on the value and handling data in a competitive, potentially antagonistic, multi-agent environment, and develop new theories and methods to address these pressing challenges. OCEAN requires a fundamental departure from standard approaches and leads to major scientific interdisciplinary endeavors that will transform statistical learning in the long term while opening up exciting and novel areas of research.

Since the ERC support in this grant mostly goes to PhD and postdoctoral positions, watch out for calls in the coming months or contact us at any time.

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Þe Nord Pass [jatp]

Posted in pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , on October 16, 2022 by xi'an

a journal of the [downgraded] plague and [mostly] pestilence year [from Belgium, w/o fries]

Posted in Books, Kids, Mountains, pictures, Running, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 2, 2022 by xi'an

While away for more than a week in Brussels, Belgium (for reasons I cannot reveal at this point!), I had various culinary experience ranging from terrible (in a ghastly Turkish pizza stand) to fabulous (at Ethiopian Toukoul), with a scandalously bland lamb vindaloo in the middle…

And found an historical (!) public swimming pool near my airbnb, namely the Bains de Saint-Josse, that dates from the 1930’s, with original changing cubicles where one can leave one’s clothes, great opening hours, reasonable water temperature, few swimmers, and cheap access. (The only negative point is the shallow end of the pool that makes turning awkward.) Which was fantastic as running options in the vicinity were limited and all involved 100% street trails.

Read Elder Race by Adrian Tchaikovski, Sharp Ends by Joe Abercrombie, and the first two volumes of The Scholomance by Naomi Novick. The Scholomance has a rather difficult start with a complex setting only described by an insider (although an outlier in the school pecking order), hence less inclined to details. Then the central character gets more attaching and then a bit too popular. The series is (again) rather too YA-ish for my taste, with the now common pattern of a coming of age in a wizard boarding school, just without any adult in control, which makes it a most bizarre school. However, I am rather shocked by how of little consequence deaths of students are, incl. for the central character. Sharp Ends is rather aptly named since this a collection of short stories, it is inevitably mixed in quality. The setting is the usual (and by now solidly established) First Law World, involving some of the most famous Abercrombie characters like Glotka and Logen Ninefingers. Some I felt like having already read in other books, like the final story, some were too light for grimdark, and some were going nowhere. But when looking at the original cover,  I seem to remember buying it at a farmers’ market in Northern California! And Elder Race is a short novel on a theme inspired from the early Ursula Le Guin novels, namely the impact of an “advanced” civilization on a less “developed” former colony. Where an anthropologist (an homage to Le Guin?) gets progressively involved in the plight of a population he cannot any longer treat in a clinical and remote way. The core crisis initiating this epiphany is however rather poorly constructed, as the “plague” impacting the colony merges too many tropes of the genre, while clashing with the overal rationalism of the novel. In addition, the depiction of the depression symptoms of the anthropologist is overdone.

Watched three episodes of House of the Dragon, none of RIngs of Power (so far). Lacking somewhat in scale (except those on the dragon), but with a brilliant actress playing Rhaenyra Targaryen in these episodes.

Brussels fronts [jatp]

Posted in pictures, Running, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , on October 1, 2022 by xi'an


Posted in pictures, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , on September 20, 2022 by xi'an

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