Archive for Eindhoven

me no savi [travel madness]

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , on June 1, 2022 by xi'an

Today, I left home in the wee hours, after watering my tomatoes!, quite excited to join the Safe, Anytime-Valid Inference (SAVI) workshop in Eindhoven, which was taking place after two years of postponement. I alas did not check the state of the train traffic beforehand and when I reached the train station I found that part of the line to De Gaulle airport was closed, due to some control cables being stolen last night. Things quickly deteriorated as the train management in Gare du Nord was pretty inefficient, meaning that the trains would stop for five minutes at each station, and that there was no rail alternative to reach Roissy. The taxi stand was a complete mess, with no queue whatsoever, and the Parisian taxis kept true to their reputation, by refusing to take people to the airport, asking for outrageous prices (60 euros per passenger), and stopping anywhere. I almost managed to get one but he refused to take me on top of the Swede family I had directed to this stand from the RER train, and this was simply my last opportunity. Über taxis were invisible and I soon realised I could not catch my flight. Later flights were outrageously expensive and there was not train seat whatsoever till the day after, so I gave up and returned home from this trip to nowhere…

YES IX [Eurandom, 7-9 March 2018]

Posted in Kids with tags , , , on December 7, 2017 by xi'an

Just to relay an announcement for a workshop for young European statisticians (YES), that will take place at Eurandom, Eindhoven, The Netherlands, from March 7 till March 9, with Quentin Berthet, David Dunson, and Jianquing Fan, as tutorial speakers. I actually attended one of these workshops a while ago (2009!), along with a postdoc at CREST, but have few memories of it. Except a wide spectrum of talks and a diverse audience. The theme is “Scalable Statistics: on Accuracy and Computational Complexity”.

Terug van Eindhoven [Yes III impressions]

Posted in Statistics, Travel with tags , , , , , , , on October 8, 2009 by xi'an

First, Peter Grünwald had to cancel his lectures at Yes III due to a severe flu, which was unfortunate both for him (!) and for the participants to the workshop. Indeed, I was quite interested in hearing about the/his latest developments on the minimum length encoding priors… The lectures by Laurie Davies and Niels Hjort did take place, however, and were quite informative from my perspective: Laurie Davies gave a very general lecture on the notion of approximation and regularisation in Statistics, with a lot of good questions about the nature of “truth” and “model”, which was quite appropriate for this meeting. There also was a kind of ABC flavour in his talk—which made a sort of a connection with mine—, in that models were generally tested by running virtual datasets and checking for adequacy of the observed model. Maybe a bit too ad-hoc and frequentist, as well as fundamentally dependent on the measure of adequacy (in a Vapnik-Cervonenkis sense), but still very interesting. (Of course, a Bayesian answer would also incorporate the consequence of a rejection by looking at the action under the alternative/rejection…) The second half of his lectures was about non-parametric regression, a topic I always find incompletely covered as to why and where the assumptions are made. But I think these lectures must have had a lasting impact on the young statisticians attending the workshop.

Niels Hjort first talked about the “quiet scandal of Statistics”, a nice sentence coined by Leo Breiman, which actually replies to some extent to the previous lectures in that he complained about the lack of accounting for the randomness/bias in selecting a model before working with it as if it was the “truth”.  Another very interesting part of the lectures was dealing with his focussed information criterion (FIC), which adds to the menagerie of information criteria, but also has an interesting link with the pre-test and shrinkage literature of the 70’s and the 80’s. Selecting a model according to its estimated performances in terms of a common loss function is certainly of interest, even though incorporating everything within a single Bayesian framework would certainly be more coherent. Niels also included a fairly exciting data analysis about the authorship of the Novel Prize novel “Quiet flows the Don“, which he attributed to the Nobel Prize winner Sholokhov (solely on the basis of the length of the sentences). Most of his lecture covers material related to his recent book Model Selection and Model Averaging co-authored with Gerda Claeskens.

My only criticism about the meeting is that, despite the relatively small audience, there was little interaction and discussion during the talks (which makes sense for my talk as there was hardly anyone, besides Nils Hjort, interested in computational Bayes!). The questions during the talks were mostly asked by the three senior lecturers and the debates as well. This certainly occurs in other young statisticians meetings, but I think the audience should be encouraged to participate, to debate and to criticise, because this is part of the job of being a researcher. Having for instance registered discussants would help.

Another personnal regret is to have missed the opportunity to attend a concert of Jordi Savall who was playing on Tuesday night Marais’ Lecons de Ténèbres in Eindhoven…

Don’t trust the GPS!

Posted in Travel with tags , , , , , on October 6, 2009 by xi'an

Since the train connections to Eindhoven from Paris were not that great, I took the super-fast-train to Brussels then rented a car with a Parisian postdoc to reach Eindhoven and the Yes III meeting faster. The rental company provided us with a GPS that we activated from the start. However, thanks to a mysterious “simulated drive” mode, the system went on the optimal drive to Eindhoven without paying the slightest attention to the actual road conditions (which, incidentally, were rather horrendous in downtown Brussels). It then took us half an hour to restart the GPS and find the exit out of Brussels, while it would have been obvious to follow the “Ring” sign when exiting Brussels Midi train station! Once in Eindhoven, the system got us rather nicely to the Eurandom building and I was starting to trust this pampered way of driving.

However, since I could not leave the car on the university campus overnight, I had to drive the car to my hotel, downtown Eindhoven, and I thus entered the address of the hotel, as provided by a secretary. Alas, this was the address for the wrong hotel and things started to deteriorate from there: the (wrong) hotel owner was presumably unhappy about having to direct a potential customer to a competitor so he gave me a wrong address and I went back the whole circle to the university and in central Eindhoven. for nothing. There I asked another (wrong) hotel who kindly gave me the proper address, but omitted the (major) detail that it was in a pedestrian district and thus impossible to reach by car. I then repeatedly followed the instructions from the GPS only to hit streets where it was impossible to turn! After going on like that for two more circles and close to one hour, I eventually picked what I thought was the nearest public parking, which ended up being right under my hotel. To conclude my adventures in Eindhoven, my hotel room is right on top of a bar that specialises in big band jazz music, to which I am listening right now and till the bar closes, presumably… Proper punishment for driving, that’s it! (Followed by a chime concert at about 5am, played by workers installing the morning outdoor market under my window..)

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