Archive for Coventry

BNP12

Posted in pictures, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 9, 2018 by xi'an

The next BNP (Bayesian nonparametric) conference is taking place in Oxford (UK), prior to the O’Bayes 2019 conference in Warwick, in June 24-28 and June 29-July 2, respectively. At this stage, the Scientific Committee of BNP12 invites submissions for possible contributed talks. The deadline for submitting a title/abstract is 15th December 2018. And the submission of applications for travel support closes on 15th December 2018. Currently, there are 35 awards that could be either travel awards or accommodation awards. The support is for junior researchers (students currently enrolled in a Dphil (PhD) programme or having graduated after 1st October 2015). The applicant agrees to present her/his work at the conference as a poster or oraly if awarded the travel support.

As for O’Bayes 2019, we are currently composing the programme, following the 20 years tradition of these O’Bayes meetings of having the Scientific Committee (Marilena Barbieri, Ed George, Brunero Liseo, Luis Pericchi, Judith Rousseau and myself) inviting about 25 speakers to present their recent work and 25 discussants to… discuss these works. With a first day of introductory tutorials to Bayes, O’Bayes and beyond. I (successfully) proposed this date and location to the O’Bayes board to take advantage of the nonparametric Bayes community present in the vicinity so that they could attend both meetings at limited cost and carbon impact.

abseiling down Coventry cathedral

Posted in Mountains, pictures, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2018 by xi'an

clothespin and bike woes

Posted in pictures, Running, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2018 by xi'an

The past week at Warwick was a pleasant (pre)start of semester (with hardly any student around), pleasant except from a biking perspective, as I was essentially three days without a bike, from having to recover it at a friend’s at the end of my first morning run, where it had been kindly stored over the summer break, to facing once again a flat tyre, to running after a safe and dry storage location as my Department is about to move to a new and smaller building. Where bikes are not allowed indoor, apparently. (Sometimes, it feels like the University of Carwick!) And the new bike hub at Coventry train station had no free fob. Nothing major as I am living once again in the maths houses, quite a quick walk to the Department, but mildly annoying and disrupting my routine. As it happened, the flat tyre was the result of my riding over the spring of a clothes peg (or clothespin, as in the above sculpture in Phillie), lying the wrong way on the ground, which acted as a perfect caltrop! (My friend and bike wizzard Nick fixed the tyre and changed the tube as soon as I reached the  Department with the wheel, but annoying it was.)

another tee-shirt issue

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 10, 2018 by xi'an

I bought this burgundy mountain equipment tee-shirt last time I was in Coventry as I found the play on the seam as a crack rather clever. (As if I needed new tee shirts!) I later reflected that the posture of the climber is quite wrong as this climber should not be holding the rope when falling: as I became rather painfully aware a few years, ropes can become dangerous when stretched in the vicinity of fingers… So I dropped a line to the company, which kindly replied to my email that they had digitised an actual picture of a falling climber, hoping no one would take this tee-shirt as a recommendation for lead falls! (Their site actually opens with a great picture of a climber on the iconic Totem Pole, Tasmania.)

head position at Warwick stats

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , on August 7, 2018 by xi'an

The Department of Statistics at Warwick seeks a new head to continue to develop and advance the quality of its education and research. The successful candidate will be appointed as a professor on an indefinite basis and will have a strong research and leadership profile. The appointment as Head of Department will be for three years in the first instance, with an option to extend. The next Head will work with this large and diverse community of academics and students, and support collaboration with the wider University. They will represent the Department to public and private audiences, nationally and internationally, and develop networks to promote the work of the Department. The deadline for applicants is 28 September 2018.

 

troubling trends in machine learning

Posted in Books, pictures, Running, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 25, 2018 by xi'an

This morning, in Coventry, while having an n-th cup of tea after a very early morning run (light comes early at this time of the year!), I spotted an intriguing title in the arXivals of the day, by Zachary Lipton and Jacob Steinhard. Addressing the academic shortcomings of machine learning papers. While I first thought little of the attempt to address poor scholarship in the machine learning literature, I read it with growing interest and, although I am pessimistic at the chances of inverting the trend, considering the relentless pace and massive production of the community, I consider the exercise worth conducting, if only to launch a debate on the excesses found in the literature.

“…desirable characteristics:  (i) provide intuition to aid the reader’s understanding, but clearly distinguish it from stronger conclusions supported by evidence; (ii) describe empirical investigations that consider and rule out alternative hypotheses; (iii) make clear the relationship between theoretical analysis and intuitive or empirical claims; and (iv) use language to empower the reader, choosing terminology to avoid misleading or unproven connotations, collisions with other definitions, or conflation with other related but distinct concepts”

The points made by the authors are (p.1)

  1. Failure to distinguish between explanation and speculation
  2. Failure to identify the sources of empirical gains
  3. Mathiness
  4. Misuse of language

Again, I had misgiving about point 3., but this is not an anti-maths argument, rather about the recourse to vaguely connected or oversold mathematical results as a way to support a method.

Most interestingly (and living dangerously!), the authors select specific papers to illustrate their point, picking from well-established authors and from their own papers, rather than from junior authors. And also include counter-examples of papers going the(ir) right way. Among the recommendations for emerging from the morass of poor scholarship papers, they suggest favouring critical writing and retrospective surveys (provided authors can be found for these!). And mention open reviews before I can mention these myself. One would think that published anonymous reviews are a step in the right direction, I would actually say that this should be the norm (plus or minus anonymity) for all journals or successors of journals (PCis coming strongly to mind). But requiring more work from the referees implies rewards for said referees, as done in some biology and hydrology journals I refereed for (and PCIs of course).

LMS Invited Lecture Series / CRISM Summer School 2018

Posted in pictures, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , on July 12, 2018 by xi'an