Archive for La Sapienza

A Roma [4]

Posted in pictures, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , on March 1, 2012 by xi'an

The above could have been the very last picture taken with my current camera: After taking it, I let go the camera which bounced on the pavement and…disappeared inside an manhole! I then thought it was lost to the cloaca maxima, but still took a look by the manhole and the camera was sitting within reach on a pile of refuse… Even better the camera is still working and seems to have lost a dust particle that was plaguing all my pictures since X’mas… (Btw, I eventually managed to get an Ethernet cable connection! Which implies text in addition to pictures on the ‘Og in the coming days.)

Living within walking distance of La Sapienza means I can take lots of pictures in the streets around the university, enjoying the morning & evening sun… As I wrote yesterday, almost all houses look like palazzi. Except the following one, which sounds more like a remnant of the fascist era. (It was indeed built between 1937 and 1938, and is now the site of the superior council of the magistracy.)

I thus appreciate very much the double opportunity offered by teaching this ABC advanced course at La Sapienza, namely both to reach new students and to enjoy a week of Roman dolce vita…

ABC in Roma [R lab #1]

Posted in R, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , on February 29, 2012 by xi'an

Here are the R codes of the first R lab written and ran by Serena Arima in supplement of my lectures. This is quite impressive and helpful to the students, as illustrated by the first example below (using the abc software).

### Example 1: Conjugate model (Normal-Inverse Gamma)
### y1,y2,...,yn ~N(mu,sigma2)
### mu|sigma2 ~ N(0,sigma2), sigma2 ~IG(1/2,1/2)


### Iris data: sepal width of Iris Setosa

### We want to obtain the following quantities
### "par.sim" "" "post.sigma2" "stat.obs" "stat.sim"

## STAT.OBS: stat.obs are mean and variance (log scale) of the data

### PAR.SIM: par.sim simulated values from the prior distribution

for(i in 1:length(sigma.sim)){

### STAT.SIM: for mu and sigma simulated from the prior,
### generate data from the model y ~ N(mu,sigma^2)

for(i in 1:length(mu.sim)){,mu.sim[i],sqrt(sigma.sim[i]))

### Obtain posterior distribution using ABC
post.value=abc(target=stat.oss, param=prior.sim,


### True values, thanks to conjugancy*mean(y)

hist(,main="Posterior distribution of mu")

hist(,main="Posterior distribution of sigma2")

I am having a great time teaching this “ABC in Roma” course, in particular because of the level of interaction and exchange with the participants (after, if not during, the classes).

A Roma

Posted in pictures, R, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , on February 26, 2012 by xi'an

Today, I am going to Rome for a week, teaching my PhD course on ABC I first gave in Paris. The course takes place in La Sapienza Università di Roma, from Monday till Thursday. There will be an R lab in addition to the lectures. (I have no further item of information at the moment.) The slides have been corrected from some typos and reposted on slideshare.

bounded normal mean

Posted in R, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2011 by xi'an

A few days ago, one of my students, Jacopo Primavera (from La Sapienza, Roma) presented his “reading the classic” paper, namely the terrific bounded normal mean paper by my friends George Casella and Bill Strawderman (1981, Annals of Statistics). Even though I knew this paper quite well, having read (and studied) it myself many times, starting in 1987 in Purdue with Mary Ellen Bock, it was a pleasure to spend another hour on it, as I came up with new perspectives and new questions. Above are my scribbled notes on the back of the [Epson] beamer documentation. One such interesting question is whether or not it is possible to devise a computer code that would [approximately] produce the support of the least favourable prior for a given bound m (in a reasonable time). Another open question is to find the limiting bounds for which a 2 point, a 3 point, &tc., support prior is the least favourable prior. This was established in Casella and Strawderman for bounds less than 1.08 and for bounds between 1.4 and 1.6, but I am not aware of other results in that direction… Here are the slides used by Jacopo: