Archive for ISBA conference

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.

M(CM)Ski 5? [with ski polls]

Posted in Mountains, pictures, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , on January 15, 2014 by xi'an

ridge8Along other members of BayesComp who launched a brainstorming session for the next MCMSki meeting before the snow has completely melted from our skis, we discussed the following topics about the future meeting:

1. Should we keep the brandname MCMSki for the incoming meetings? The argument for changing the name is that the community is broader than MCMC, as already shown by the program of MCMCSki 4.  I have no strong feeling about this name, even though I find it catchy and sexy! I would thus rather keep MCMSki because it is already a brandname. Else, we could switch to M(CM)Ski, MCMSki with friends (and foes?), Snowtistics and Compuskis, or to any other short name with or without ski in it, as long as the filiation from the previous meetings is clear in the mind of the participants.

2. Should we move the frequency to two years? While the current meeting was highly popular and attracted the record number of 223 participants, and while the period right after the Winter break is not so heavily packed with meetings, we were several at a banquet table last week to object to a planned move from three to two years. I understand the appeal of meetings with great speakers in a terrific mountainous taking place as often as possible… However what stroke me with the meeting last week is that, despite the large number of parallel sessions, I overwhelmingly heard novel stuff, compared with previous meetings. And would have heard even more, had I been gifted with ubiquity. Moving to two years could cull this feeling. And induce “meeting fatigue. Furthermore, I fear that the increase in ISBA sections and the natural increase of meeting entropy pushes the percentage of meetings one can attend down and down. Sticking to a three year period would keep MCMSki more significantly attractive in that refusing an invitation would mean postponing for three years, &tc. So I personally oppose a move to two years.

3. Should we seek further financial support? The financial support behind a conference is obviously crucial. When planning MCMski 4, I however decided against contacting companies as I have no skills in the matter, but finding ways to support conference rooms, youngster travels, ski race, poster prizes and banquet would be more-than-nice. Anto’s initiative to bring a pair of skis offered by a ski company was a great one and one feat that I hope can be duplicated in the future. (During my spare week in Chamonix, I contacted ski rentals and the skipass company for a rebate, to no avail.) Travel support from ISBA and SBSS towards the travel costs of around 20 young researchers was much appreciated but is not necessarily to be found at each occurrence… Note that, despite the lack of corporate support, MCMski 4 is going to provide a positive financial return to ISBA (and BayesComp) and I strongly suggest we keep a tradition of minimalist services for the future meetings in order to fight outrageous conference fees. I think the fees should cover the conference rooms and possibly a cuppa or two a day but nothing more. In particular, the banquet should remain optional. And so should any other paying social event. (We can also do without goodies and conference material.)

4. Where should the next meeting take place? The call is on for potential organisers in either 2016 or 2017, early January. Between the Alps and the Rockies, there are plenty of possible locations, but more exotic places in the Northern Hemisphere could be suggested as well, from Lapland to Hokkaido… A question raised by Christophe Andrieu that I’d like to second is whether the preference should go to places that qualify as villages or as resort. Bormio and Chamonix are villages, while Park City is not. (I definitely prefer villages!)

MCMSki IV [prizes]

Posted in Books, Mountains, pictures, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , on January 10, 2014 by xi'an

ridge6Congratulations to the MCMSki IV poster prize winners:

who each received two books from those kindly sent by Academic Press, CRC Press, and Springer-Verlag. (Except one of the above who should contact me for delivering her/him the dedicated books!) And to the honourable mention winners:

And to the members of the jury who worked hard both evening to produce this set of winners… Congrats too to Mina Vekhala from Helsinki who left the banquet with a pair of Blossom skis, thanks to a random draw from U({1,…,188}) of a dinner participant. She was 154th on the list and this number came out first. (Renewed thanks to Blossom skis for their generosity!)

MCMSki IV, Jan. 6-8, 2014, Chamonix (news #18)

Posted in Mountains, R, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2014 by xi'an

MCMSki IV is about to start! While further participants may still register (registration is still open!), we are currently 223 registered participants, without accompanying people. I do hope most of these managed to reach the town of Chamonix-Mont-Blanc despite the foul weather on the East Coast. Unfortunately, three speakers (so far) cannot make it: Yugo Chen (Urbana-Champaign), David Hunter (Penn State), Georgios Karagiannis (Toronto), and Liam Paninski (New York). Nial Friel will replace David Hunter and give a talk on Noisy MCMC.

First, the  posters for tonight session (A to K authors) should be posted today (before dinner) on the boards at the end of the main lecture theatre. And removed tonight as well. Check my wordpress blog for the abstracts. (When I mentioned there was no deadline for sending abstracts, I did not expect getting one last Friday!)

Second, I remind potential skiers that the most manageable option is to ski on the Brévent domain, uphill from the conference centre. There is even a small rental place facing the cable-car station (make sure to phone +33450535264 to check they still have skis available) and renting storage closets…

MCMSki IV, Jan. 6-8, 2014, Chamonix (news #17)

Posted in Mountains, R, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 3, 2014 by xi'an

We are a few days from the start, here are the latest items of information for the participants:

The shuttle transfer on January 5th, from Geneva Airport to Chamonix lasts 1 hour 30 minutes. At your arrival in the airport , follow the “Swiss Exit”. After the customs, the bus driver (handling a sign “MCMC’Ski Chamonix”) will be waiting for you at the Meeting Point in the Arrival Hall. The bus driver will arrive 10 minutes before the time of the meeting and will check for each participant on his or her list. There may be delays in case of poor weather.  The bus will drop you in front of or close to your hotel. If you miss the bus initially booked, you can get the next one. If you miss the last transfer, taking a taxi will be the only solution (warning, about 250 Euros!!!)

The registration will start on Monday January 6th at 8am, the conference will start at 8.45am. The conference will take place at the Majestic Congress Center, located 241 Allée du Majestic, in downtown Chamonix. There are signs all over town directing to Majestic Congrés. (No skiing equipment, i.e., skis, boots, boards, is allowed inside the building.) Speakers are advised to check with their chair in advance about downloading their talk.

The Richard Tweedie ski race should take place on Wednesday at 1pm, weather and snow permitting. There will be a registration line at the registration desk. (The cost is 10€ per person and does not include lift passes or equipment.) Thanks to Antonietta Mira, there will be two pairs of skis to be won!)

MCMSki IV, Jan. 6-8, 2014, Chamonix (news #15)

Posted in Mountains, R, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 26, 2013 by xi'an

The programs of the talks, posters and workshop are now printed and available on Speaker Deck (talks, posters, workshop). Please let me know if you spot anything wrong (even though it will not be reprinted!). This is presumably the last news item till Jan. 5 as I am almost off to Chamonix for a week of hard work preparing the conference happily skiing with my family, looking forward seeing some participants in the coming week in the streets of Chamonix and all of them/you on Monday, Jan. 6, 8:30! (Snow is falling right now, so there should be no issue with finding open runs…)

MCMSki IV, Jan. 6-8, 2014, Chamonix (news #14)

Posted in Mountains, R, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 22, 2013 by xi'an

We are quite glad to announce that, thanks to the support of several publishers (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, Elsevier, and Springer-Verlag), there will be book prizes for both poster nights at MCMSki IV ! I was reminded of this possibility during O-Bayes 2013 and those publishers reacted both quickly and positively to my request (and so did the members of the juries). The list and abstracts of the 75 posters are available on the special blog. (It will not necessarily be provided on site so make sure to store it and bring it with you!)

Another thing of importance: if you have not booked your shuttle through the registration webpage, you have to find a private shuttle on your own. The doodles I set to monitor arrivals and departures did not fill up well enough to be of use. Once again, do not rely on taxis! Looking forward seeing the 200+ participants on January 06 in Chamonix, best Season Wishes!

And even though this is only of interest to locals, Nicolas and Robin have planned an “MCMSki decompression session” at the BiP seminar on 23rd January: MCMSki attendees will give a short presentation of a talk that they liked (or disliked?). Something to keep in mind during the conference. (Guest posts for the ‘Og are also invited from all participants.)

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