Archive for mirror workshop

keep meetings hybrid

Posted in Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2022 by xi'an

I was reading the latest ISBA Bulletin and the tribune by ISBA President Sudipto Banerjee celebrating the return to the physical ISBA World meeting, along with worries about participants who caught COVID there. (Unfortunately, one good friend of mine experienced symptoms that went beyond the mild cold-like ones I zoomed through a few days ago.) This particular issue of creating a COVID cluster [during coffee breaks?!] provides [me with] one further argument for my supporting hybrid and multimodal meetings on a general basis. Which should [imho] appear in the proposals for the 2026 and 2028 World Meetings (deadline on 31 October)…(The 2024 meeting in Venezia will certainly involve hybridicity! As will BayesComp in Levi.) Discussing the topic with others in some scientific committees recently made me realise this was not such a shared perspective, from reasons varying from worrying about balancing the budget, to zoom fatigue, to the added value of informal interactions. Still, there also are reasons for hybridising our meetings, from reduced travel impact, to more inclusiveness,  on geographical, diversity, affordability, seniority grounds. Holding hybrid conferences with multiple regional mirrors allows for a potentially higher degree of interaction and local input.  And a minimal organisational effort.

day five at ISBA 22

Posted in Mountains, pictures, Running, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 4, 2022 by xi'an

Woke up even earlier today! Which left me time to work on switching to Leonard Cohen’s song titles for my slide frametitles this afternoon (last talk of the whole conference!), run once again to Mon(t) Royal as all pools are closed (Happy Canada Day!, except to “freedom convoy” antivaxxxers.) Which led to me meeting a raccoon by the side of the path (and moroons feeding wildlife).

Had an exciting time at the morning session, where Giacomo Zanella (formerly Warwick) talked on a mixture approach to leave-one-out predictives, with pseudo-harmonic mean representation, averaging inverse density across all observations. Better than harmonic? Some assumptions allow for finite variance, although I am missing the deep argument (in part due to Giacomo’s machine-gun delivery pace!) Then Alicia Corbella (Warwick) presented a promising entry into PDMP by proposing an automated zig-zag sampler. Pointing out on the side to Joris Bierkens’ webpage on the state-of-the-art PDMP methodology. In this approach, joint with with my other Warwick colleagues Simon Spencer and Gareth Roberts, the zig-zag sampler relies on automatic differentiation and sub-sampling and bound derivation, with “no further information on the target needed”. And finaly Chris Carmona presented a joint work with Geoff Nicholls that is merging merging cut posteriors and variational inference to create a meta posterior. Work and talk were motivated by a nice medieval linguistic problem where the latent variables impact the (convergence of the) MCMC algorithm [as in our k-nearest neighbour experience]. Interestingly using normalising [neural spline] flows. The pseudo-posterior seems to depend very much on their modularization rate η, which penalises how much one module influences the next one.

In the aft, I attended sort of by chance [due to a missing speaker in the copula session] to the end of a session on migration modelling, with a talk by Jason Hilton and Martin Hinsch focussing on the 2015’s mass exodus of Syrians through the Mediterranean,  away from the joint evils of al-Hassad and ISIS. As this was a tragedy whose modelling I had vainly tried to contribute to, I was obviously captivated and frustrated (leaning of the IOM missing migrant project!) Fitting the agent-based model was actually using ABC, and most particularly our ABC-PMC!!!

My own and final session had Gareth (Warwick) presenting his recent work with Jun Yang and Kryzs Łatuszyński (Warwick) on the stereoscopic projection improvement over regular MCMC, which involves turning the target into a distribution supported by an hypersphere and hence considering a distribution with compact support and higher efficiency. Kryzs had explained the principle while driving back from Gregynog two months ago. The idea is somewhat similar to our origaMCMC, which I presented at MCqMC 2016 in Stanford (and never completed), except our projection was inside a ball. Looking forward the adaptive version, in the making!

And to conclude this subjective journal from the ISBA conference, borrowing this title by (Westmount born) Leonard Cohen, “Hey, that’s not a way to say goodbye”… To paraphrase Bilbo Baggins, I have not interacted with at least half the participants half as much as I would have liked. But this was still a reunion, albeit in the new Normal. Hopefully, the conference will not have induced a massive COVID cluster on top of numerous scientific and social exchanges! The following days will tell. Congrats to the ISBA 2022 organisers for achieving a most successful event in these times of uncertainty. And looking forward the 2024 next edition in Ca’Foscari, Venezia!!!

 

day four at ISBA 22

Posted in Mountains, pictures, Running, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 3, 2022 by xi'an

Woke up an hour later today! Which left me time to work on [shortening] my slides for tomorrow, run to Mon(t) Royal, and bike to St-Viateur Bagels for freshly baked bagels. (Which seemed to be missing salt, despite my low tolerance for salt in general.)

Terrific plenary lecture by Pierre Jacob in his Susie Bayarri’s Lecture about cut models!  Offering a very complete picture of the reasons for seeking modularisation, the theoretical and practical difficulties with the approach, and some asymptotics as well. Followed a great discussion by Judith on cut posteriors separating interest parameters from nuisance parameters, especially in semi-parametric models. Even introducing two priors on the same parameters! And by Jim Berger, who coauthored with Susie the major cut paper inspiring this work, and illustrated the concept on computer experiments (not falling into the fallacy pointed out by Martin Plummer at MCMski(v) in Chamonix!).

Speaking of which, the Scientific Committee for the incoming BayesComp²³ in Levi, Finland, had a working meeting to which I participated towards building the programme as it is getting near. For those interested in building a session, they should make preparations and take advantage of being together in Mon(t)réal, as the call is coming out pretty soon!

Attended a session on divide-and-conquer methods for dependent data, with Sanvesh Srivastava considering the case of hidden Markov models and block processing the observed sequence. Which is sort of justified by the forgettability of long-past observations. I wonder if better performances could be achieved otherwise as the data on a given time interval gives essentially information on the hidden chain at other time periods.

I was informed this morn that Jackie Wong, one speaker in our session tomorrow could not make it to Mon(t)réal for visa reasons. Which is unfortunate for him, the audience and everyone involved in the organisation. This reinforces my call for all-time hybrid conferences that avoid penalising (or even discriminating) against participants who cannot physically attend for ethical, political (visa), travel, health, financial, parental, or any other, reasons… I am often opposed the drawbacks of lower attendance, risk of a deficit, dilution of the community, but there are answers to those, existing or to be invented, and the huge audience at ISBA demonstrates a need for “real” meetings that could be made more inclusive by mirror (low-key low-cost) meetings.

Finished the day at Isle de Garde with a Pu Ehr flavoured beer, in a particularly lively (if not jazzy) part of the city…

ICMS supports mirrors

Posted in Travel, University life with tags , , , , on December 6, 2021 by xi'an


Received an announcement from the International Centre for Mathematical Sciences (ICMS) in Edinburgh that they will support mirror meetings (albeit in the United Kindgom) as well as other inclusive initiatives:

• ICMS@: this programme allows organisers to hold ‘satellite events’, ICMS-funded activity at venues elsewhere in the UK with logistic support by the ICMS staff. The aim will be to enable more activities at a high level distributed throughout the country and to facilitate participation by those who cannot easily travel. There will be an additional emphasis on regions that have found it difficult to fund local events in the past.

• Funds to allow participants at ICMS workshops to extend their visits in the UK, especially for the purpose of visiting other institutions and engaging in extended research interaction.

• A visitor programme for researchers from low- and middle-income countries to come to the UK to attend workshops and fund their stay for up to three months.

• Workshops or schools for postgraduate students and early career researchers which can be of varying lengths and intensities.

• A fund to help people with caring responsibilities attend our events.

thanks from CIRM

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 5, 2021 by xi'an

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