**T**his weekend edition of Le Monde had [most of] Cédric Villani as its cover story. Mostly about his new career as a representative of Orsay at the French Parliament. And a member of the presidential majority. But the weekend edition being the weekend edition, it cannot escape its glossy tendencies and rather than focussing on the political agenda and achievements of the député, including a radical restructuring of the maths curriculum in French high schools, or maybe even his position on the harsh stance of the Macron government on migrants and refugees, Le Monde spends most of the article on the extra-ordinary personality of Villani. Paris-Match-like. Which leads to quote as the one below, where I find myself at a loss on how to interpret this “ability to speak to statisticians”…!

## Archive for Cédric Villani

## “À l’université, j’étais le matheux qui savait parler aux statisticiens.”

Posted in Books, pictures, University life with tags Cédric Villani, French elections, French parliement, interview, Le Monde, maths and stats, Paris-Match, weekend edition on February 19, 2018 by xi'an## the decline of the French [maths] empire

Posted in Kids, University life with tags bachelor, Cédric Villani, French education ministry, Le Monde, measure theory, programmes, secondary schools, teaching on December 16, 2017 by xi'an**I**n Le Monde edition of Nov 5, an article on the difficulty of maths departments to attract students, especially in master programs and in the training of secondary school maths teachers (Agrégation & CAPES), where the number of candidates usually does not reach the number of potential positions… And also on the deep changes in the training of secondary school pupils, who over the past five years have lost a considerable amount of maths bases and hence are found missing when entering the university level. (Or, put otherwise, have a lower level in maths that implies a strong modification of our own programs and possibly the addition of an extra year or at least semester to the bachelor degree…) For instance, a few weeks ago, I realised for instance that my third year class had little idea of a conditional density and teaching measure theory at this level becomes more and more of a challenge!

## weapons of math destruction [fan]

Posted in Statistics with tags AI, artificial intelligence, Cédric Villani, French parliement, French politics, Le Monde, singularity, superintelligence, weapons of math destruction on September 20, 2017 by xi'an**A**s a [new] member of Parliement, Cédric Villani is now in charge of a committee on artificial intelligence, which goal is to assess the positive and negative sides of AI. And refers in Le Monde interview below to Weapons of Maths Destruction as impacting his views on the topic! Let us hope Superintelligence is no next on his reading list…

## Cédric Villani elected

Posted in Statistics with tags Cédric Villani, Emmanuel Macron, Field medal, French elections, French mathematicians, Le Monde, Orsay on June 19, 2017 by xi'an## GG Day in Rouen

Posted in Kids, pictures, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags Cédric Villani, CNRS, conference, fractals, France, Gérard Granger, GG Day, Madrillet, Pascal, Raphaël Salem, retirement, Rouen, scientific word on March 26, 2017 by xi'an*[Notice: This post is fairly “local” in that it is about a long-time friend being celebrated by his university. Nice poster though and an opportunity to stress his essential contributions to the maths department there!]*

**N**ext June, I will spend the day in Rouen for a conference celebrating the career and dedication of Gérard Grancher to mathematics and the maths department there. (When I got invited I had not realised I was to give *the* research talk of the day!) Gérard Granger is a CNRS engineer and a statistician who is indissociable from the maths department in Rouen, where he spent his whole career, now getting quite close to [mandatory] retirement! I am very happy to take part in this celebration as Gérard has always been an essential component of the department there, driving the computer structure, reorganising the library, disseminating the fun of doing maths to high schools around and to the general public, and always a major presence in the department, whom I met when I started my PhD there (!) Working on the local computers in Pascal and typing my thesis with scientific word (!!)

## career advices by Cédric Villani

Posted in Kids, pictures, Travel, University life with tags artificial intelligence, Cédric Villani, Le Monde, machine learning, O21, robotics, students on January 26, 2017 by xi'an

Le Monde has launched a series of tribunes proposing career advices from 35 personalities, among whom this week (Jan. 4, 2017) Cédric Villani. His suggestion for younger generations is to invest in artificial intelligence and machine learning. While acknowledging this still is a research topic, then switching to robotics [although this is mostly a separate. The most powerful advice in this interview is to start with a specialisation when aiming at a large spectrum of professional opportunities, gaining the opening from exchanges with people and places. And cultures. Concluding with a federalist statement I fully share.

## introduction à la Statistique, by Cédric Villani

Posted in Books, Kids, Statistics, University life with tags Cédric Villani, Emmanuel Candés, Fields medal, France, IHP, International Year of Statistics, SFDS on January 26, 2014 by xi'an**O**n Tuesday, there was a series of talks (in French) celebrating Statistics, with an introduction by Cédric Villani. (The talks are reproduced on the French Statistical Society (SFDS) webpage.) Rather unpredictably (!), Villani starts from an early 20th Century physics experiment leading to the estimation of the Avogadro constant from a series of integers. (Repeating an earlier confusion of his, he substitutes the probability of observing a rare event under the null with the probability of the alternative on the Higgs boson to be true!) A special mention to/of Francis Galton’s “supreme law of unreason”. And of surveys, pointing out the wide variability of a result for standard survey populations. But missing the averaging and more statistical effect of accumulating surveys, a principle at the core of Nate Silver‘s predictions. A few words again about the Séralini et al. experiments on Monsanto genetically modified maize NK603, attacked for their lack of statistical foundations. And then, hear hear!, much more than a mere mention of phylogenetic inference, with explanations about inverse inference, Markov Chain Monte Carlo algorithms on trees, convergence of Metropolis algorithms by Persi Diaconis, and Bayesian computations! Of course, this could be seen more as numerical probability than as truly statistics, but it is still pleasant to hear.

**T**he last part of the talk more predictably links Villani’s own field of optimal transportation (which I would translate as a copula problem…) and statistics, mostly understood as empirical distributions. I find it somewhat funny that Sanov’s theorem is deemed therein to be a (or even the) Statistics theorem! I wonder how many statisticians could state this theorem… The same remark applies for the Donsker-Varadhan theory of large deviations. Still, the very final inequality linking the three types of information concepts is just… beautiful! You may spot in the last minute a micro confusion in repeating twice the definition for Fisher’s information rather than deducing that the information associated with a *location* family is constant. (And a no-so-necessary mention of the Cramer-Rao bound on unbiased estimators. Which could have been quoted as the Fréchet-Darmois-Cramer-Rao bound in such historical grounds ) A pleasant moment, all in all! (There are five other talks on that page, including one by Emmanuel Candés.)