Archive for France

ABC not in Svalbard [this time!]

Posted in Mountains, pictures, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 28, 2021 by xi'an

Alas, thrice alas!, there will be no one attending the ABC in Svalbard in Svalbard  next April. As the travel conditions to and around Norway are getting tougher, it is just too unrealistic to expect traveling to the Far North even from Oslo. Too bad, but hopefully there will be another opportunity in a near enough future…

However, don’t give up the fight!, the mirror meetings in Brisbane and Grenoble are still planned to take place, along with an on-line version accommodating most of the speakers invited so far. Anyone interested in holding another mirror meeting?! Please contact me.

missing bit?

Posted in Books, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , , on January 9, 2021 by xi'an

Nature of 7 December 2020 has a Nature Index (a supplement made of a series of articles, more journalistic than scientific, with corporate backup, which “have no influence over the content”) on Artificial Intelligence, including the above graph representing “the top 200 collaborations among 146 institutions based between 2015 and 2019, sized according to each institution’s share in artificial intelligence”, with only the UK, Germany, Switzerland and Italy identified for Europe… Missing e.g. the output from France and from its major computer science institute, INRIA. Maybe because “the articles picked up by [their] database search concern specific applications of AI in the life sciences, physical sciences, chemistry, and Earth and environmental sciences”.  Or maybe because of the identification of INRIA as such.

“Access to massive data sets on which to train machine-learning systems is one advantage that both the US and China have. Europe, on the other hand, has stringent data laws, which protect people’s privacy, but limit its resources for training AI algorithms. So, it seems unlikely that Europe will produce very sophisticated AI as a consequence”

This comment is sort of contradictory for the attached articles calling for a more ethical AI. Like making AI more transparent and robust. While having unrestricted access to personal is helping with social engineering and control favoured by dictatures and corporate behemoths, a culture of data privacy may (and should) lead to develop new methodology to work with protected data (as in an Alan Turing Institute project) and to infuse more trust from the public. Working with less data does not mean less sophistication in handling it but on the opposite! Another clash of events appears in one of the six trailblazers portrayed in the special supplement being Timnit Gebru, “former co-lead of the Ethical AI Team at Google”, who parted way with Google at the time the issue was published. (See Andrew’s blog for  discussion of her firing. And the MIT Technology Review for an analysis of the paper potentially at the source of it.)

ABC in Svalbard [update]

Posted in Mountains, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 16, 2020 by xi'an

Even though no one can tell at this stage who will be allowed to travel to Svalbard mid April 2021, we are keeping the workshop to physically take place as planned in Longyearbyen. With at least a group of volunteers made of researchers from Oslo (since at the current time, travel between mainland Norway and Svalbard is authorised). The conference room reservation has been confirmed yesterday and there are a few hotel rooms pre-booked through Anyone planning to attend just need to (i) register on the workshop webpage, (ii) book an hotel room for the duration of the workshop (or more)., and (iii) reserve a plane ticket as there are not that many flights planned.

Obviously this option should only attract a few brave souls (from nearby countries). We are thus running at the same time three mirror workshops in Brisbane (QUT), Coventry (University of Warwick), and Grenoble (IMAG & INRIA). Except for Warwick, where the current pandemic restrictions do not allow for a workshop to take place, the mirror workshops will take place in university buildings and be face-to-face (with video connections as well). Julyan Arbel has set-up a mirror webpage as well. With a (free) registration deadline of 31 March, the workshop being open to all who can attend. Hopefully enough of us will gather here or there to keep up with the spirit of the earlier ABC workshops. (To make the mirror places truly ABCesque, it should have been set in A as Autrans rather than Grenoble!)

graduate funding in Paris

Posted in Kids, Running, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , on December 8, 2020 by xi'an

CIRM in dire need of help

Posted in Mountains, pictures, Running, Statistics, Travel, University life, Wines with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 24, 2020 by xi'an

The International Mathematics Conference Centre, CIRM, located in Luminy, Marseille, France, has been deeply disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Up to 60 % of the events planned there have been cancelled so far and all remaining conferences have gone virtual or at best hybrid, open to a remote audience, including in an interactive way. This has required important and unexpected investments. Furthermore, this crisis happened at the worst possible moment as CIRM had just finished doubling its infrastructure capacities. This is why I strongly support the call from the French Mathematical Society (SMF) to make a donation to CIRM before the end of the year, especially from researchers who benefited from its hospitality and unique environment.