Archive for Ecole Normal Supérieure

Hélène Massam (1949-2020)

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2020 by xi'an

I was much saddened to hear yesterday that our friend and fellow Bayesian Hélène Massam passed away on August 22, 2020, following a cerebrovascular accident. She was professor of Statistics at York University, in Toronto, and, as her field of excellence covered [the geometry of] exponential families, Wishart distributions and graphical models, we met many times at both Bayesian and non-Bayesian conferences  (the first time may have been an IMS in Banff, years before BIRS was created). And always had enjoyable conversations on these occasions (in French since she was born in Marseille and only moved to Canada for her graduate studies in optimisation). Beyond her fundamental contributions to exponential families, especially Wishart distributions under different constraints [including the still opened 2007 Letac-Massam conjecture], and graphical models, where she produced conjugate priors for DAGs of all sorts, she served the community in many respects, including in the initial editorial board of Bayesian Analysis. I can also personally testify of her dedication as a referee as she helped with many papers along the years. She was also a wonderful person, with a great sense of humor and a love for hiking and mountains. Her demise is a true loss for the entire community and I can only wish her to keep hiking on new planes and cones in a different dimension. [Last month, Christian Genest (McGill University) and Xin Gao (York University) wrote a moving obituary including a complete biography of Hélène for the Statistical Society of Canada.]

MASH in Le Monde

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , on January 25, 2019 by xi'an

irreversible Markov chains

Posted in Books, pictures, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 20, 2018 by xi'an

Werner Krauth (ENS, Paris) was in Dauphine today to present his papers on irreversible Markov chains at the probability seminar. He went back to the 1953 Metropolis et al. paper. And mentioned a 1962 paper I had never heard of by Alder and Wainwright demonstrating phase transition can occur, via simulation. The whole talk was about simulating the stationary distribution of a large number of hard spheres on a one-dimensional ring, which made it hard for me to understand. (Maybe the triathlon before did not help.) And even to realise a part was about PDMPs… His slides included this interesting entry on factorised MCMC which reminded me of delayed acceptance and thinning and prefetching. Plus a notion of lifted Metropolis that could have applications in a general setting, if it differs from delayed rejection.

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