Archive for India

the unexpected inheritance of Inspector Chopra [very short book review]

Posted in Books, Travel with tags , , , , , , on March 5, 2016 by xi'an

What can be said about this book other than it involves a detective shadowing a suspect with a baby elephant in tow and climbing an escalator in a modern commercial centre with the said elephant, the suspect being none the wisest?! Not much, really. And none of it positive!

This unexpected inheritance of Inspector Chopra is a rather shallow detective story with one-dimensional characters and not much of a plot.  The only original trait being that it takes place in Mumbai, India. But this book is not much deeper than the Bollywood movies it makes fun of. I am fairly glad I got it for half price in Coventry and read it on the way back home…

Current trends in Bayesian methodology with applications

Posted in Books, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , on June 20, 2015 by xi'an

When putting this volume together with Umesh Singh, Dipak Dey, and Appaia Loganathan, my friend Satyanshu Upadhyay from Varanasi, India, asked me for a foreword. The book is now out, with chapters written by a wide variety of Bayesians. And here is my foreword, for what it’s worth:

It is a great pleasure to see a new book published on current aspects of Bayesian Analysis and coming out of India. This wide scope volume reflects very accurately on the present role of Bayesian Analysis in scientific inference, be it by statisticians, computer scientists or data analysts. Indeed, we have witnessed in the past decade a massive adoption of Bayesian techniques by users in need of statistical analyses, partly because it became easier to implement such techniques, partly because both the inclusion of prior beliefs and the production of a posterior distribution that provides a single filter for all inferential questions is a natural and intuitive way to process the latter. As reflected so nicely by the subtitle of Sharon McGrayne’s The Theory that Would not Die, the Bayesian approach to inference “cracked the Enigma code, hunted down Russian submarines” and more generally contributed to solve many real life or cognitive problems that did not seem to fit within the traditional patterns of a statistical model.
Two hundred and fifty years after Bayes published his note, the field is more diverse than ever, as reflected by the range of topics covered by this new book, from the foundations (with objective Bayes developments) to the implementation by filters and simulation devices, to the new Bayesian methodology (regression and small areas, non-ignorable response and factor analysis), to a fantastic array of applications. This display reflects very very well on the vitality and appeal of Bayesian Analysis. Furthermore, I note with great pleasure that the new book is edited by distinguished Indian Bayesians, India having always been a provider of fine and dedicated Bayesians. I thus warmly congratulate the editors for putting this exciting volume together and I offer my best wishes to readers about to appreciate the appeal and diversity of Bayesian Analysis.

the god delusion [statistically speaking]

Posted in Books, Kids, pictures, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , on August 22, 2014 by xi'an

While in Bangalore, I spotted Richard Dawkins’ The God delusion in the [fantastic if chaotic] campus bookstore and bought the Indian edition for a nominal amount.  I read most of it during my week in Boston. And finished by the lake in Maine. While I agree with most of the points made in Dawkins’ book about the irrationality of religions, and of their overall negative impact on human societies, I found the first part rather boring in that I see little appeal in dissecting so minutely the [infinitely many] incoherences of religious myths and beliefs, as this will likely miss the intended target [i.e., literal believers]. Similarly, the chapter on evolution versus intelligent design made valuable points, albeit I had already seen them before. Nothing wrong with repeating those, in particular that evolution has little to do with chance, but again unlikely to convince the [fundamentalist] masses. Overall, the book mostly focus on the Judeo-Christian-Muslim branch of religions, which may reflect on the author’s own culture and upbringing but also misses the recent attempts of Buddhism to incorporate science into their picture.

“A universe in which we are alone except for other slowly evolved intelligences is a very different universe from one with an original guiding agent whose intelligent design is responsible for its very existence.” (p.85)

What is most interesting in the book (for me) is when Dawkins tries to set the God hypothesis as a scientific hypothesis and to apply scientific methods to validate or invalidate this hypothesis. Even though there is no p-value or quantitative answer at the end. Despite the highly frequent use of “statistical” and “statistically improbable” in the corresponding chapter. What’s even more fascinating is Dawkins’ take at Bayesian arguments! Either because it is associated with a reverent or because it relies on subjective prior assessments, Bayesian statistics does not fit as a proper approach. Funny enough, Dawkins himself relies on subjective prior probabilities when discussing the likelihood of find a planet such as Earth. Now, into the details [with the Devil1] in a rather haphazard order or lack thereof: Continue reading

Munbai map [recycled art]

Posted in pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , on August 17, 2014 by xi'an

MumbaiWhile my transfer in Munbai from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2 was a bit hectic, with a security luggage scan before boarding a shuttle that would drive us to outside the terminal [next to slums that seemed to have direct access to the runways of the airport!), the brand new Terminal 2 was impressive as well as efficient as I went through security and passport controls quite quickly. I eventually reached the museum part, as this terminal holds an unbelievable collection of artefacts, sculptures and paintings. From the lounge, I could admire the above map of the region of Mumbai, made of recycled computer boards, by Akshay Rajpurkar, which I found deeply moving. If I ever travel past Mumbai T2 terminal, I will make sure to tour the rest of the collection!

Bangalore snapshot [ಬೆಂಗಳೂರು ಚಿತ್ರ]

Posted in pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , on August 2, 2014 by xi'an



marriage with data

Posted in Kids, pictures, Travel with tags , , , on August 1, 2014 by xi'an


Bangalore snapshot [ಬೆಂಗಳೂರು ಚಿತ್ರ]

Posted in pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , on August 1, 2014 by xi'an



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