Archive for Normandy


Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2020 by xi'an

On 26 and 27 March 2020, the maths department of the Université of Rouen, Normandy, France, organizes a (free) workshop on mixture distributions. With the following speakers

    • Christophe Biernacki  (Laboratoire Paul Painlevé, Univ. Lille 1 et INRIA)
    • Vincent Brault (Laboratoire Jean Kuntzmann, Univ. Grenoble Alpes)
    • Gilles Celeux  (Laboratoire de Mathématiques d’Orsay, Univ. Paris Sud et INRIA)
    • Elisabeth Gassiat  (Laboratoire de Mathématiques d’Orsay, Univ. Paris Sud)
    • Van Hà Hoang  (Laboratoire de Mathématique Raphaël Salem, Univ. Rouen Normandie)
    • Hajo Holzmann  (Philipps-University Marburg, Germany)
    • Dimitri Karlis  (Department of Statistics, Athens University of Economics and Business, Greece)
    • Trung Tin Nguyen (LMNO, Univ. Caen Normandie)
    • Andrea Rau  (Département de Génétique Animale, INRA, Jouy en Josas)
    • Pierre Vandekerkhove  (Laboratoire d’Analyse et de Mathématiques Appliquées, Univ. Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée)
    • Cinzia Viroli  (Department of Statistical Sciences, Universita di Bologna, Italia)

Unfortunately, since this is my former department, I will not be able to attend as I am taking part into the SIAM Conference on Uncertainty Quantification (UQ20), on the very same days. In a session on likelihood-free inference.

Argentan half-marathon

Posted in Running with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 5, 2019 by xi'an

Today is the day of the Argentan half-marathon which I will not run this year as I have not yet fully recovered from my Achilles tendinitis. (If running too many days in a row, as I indulged in while in Salzburg, inflammation is back!) Frustrating, as this is my “race of the year” in the Norman countryside. But another break also occurred ten years ago, when I missed the 2009 and 2010 episodes. And somehow this is the “best year” to miss as I am switching to the next age group, V3 or grand-master!, in less than a month, and will thus end up as one of the youngsters in the next race I run! As an indicator, in the 5km trail I ran last Sunday in the Parc, I ended 4th (by one position and 6 seconds!) in my category and 2nd (by three positions and 16 seconds, plus a month!) in the following one.

space opera by John Scalzi [book review]

Posted in Books, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 15, 2019 by xi'an

John Scalzi, author of the memorable Old Man’s War, has started a trilogy of which I only became aware recently (or more precisely became re-aware!), which has the perk of making two of the three books already published and hence available without a one or two year break. And having the book win the 2018 Locus Award in the meanwhile. This new series is yet again a space opera with space travel made possible by a fairly unclear Flow that even the mathematicians in the story have trouble understanding. And The Flow is used by guilds to carry goods and people to planets that are too hostile an environment for the “local” inhabitants to survive on their own. The whole setup is both homely and old-fashioned: the different guilds are associated with families, despite being centuries old, and the empire of 48 planets is still governed by the same dominant family, who also controls a fairly bland religion. Although the later managed to become the de facto religion.

“I’m a Flow physicist.  It’s high-order math. You don’t have to go out into the field for that.”

This does not sound much exciting, even for space operas, but things are starting to deteriorate when the novels start. Or more exactly, as hinted by the title, the Empire is about to collapse! (No spoiler, since this is the title!!!) However, the story-telling gets a wee bit lazy from that (early) point. In that it fixates on a very few characters [among millions of billions of inhabitants of this universe] who set the cogs spinning one way then the other then the earlier way… Dialogues are witty and often funny, those few characters are mostly well-drawn, albeit too one-dimensional, and cataclysmic events seem to be held at bay by the cleverness of one single person, double-crossing the bad guys. Mostly. While the second volume (unusually) sounds better and sees more action, more surprises, and an improvement in the plot itself, and while this makes for a pleasant travel read (I forgot The Collapsing Empire in a plane from B’ham!), I am surprised at the book winning the 2018 Locus Award indeed. It definitely lacks the scope and ambiguity of the two Ancillary novels. The convoluted philosophical construct and math background of Anathem. The historical background of Cryptonomicon and of the Baroque Cycle. Or the singularity of the Hyperion universe. (But I was also unimpressed by the Three-Body Problem! And by Scalzi’s Hugo Award Redshirts!) The third volume is not yet out.

As a French aside, a former king turned AI is called Tomas Chenevert, on a space-ship called Auvergne, with an attempt at coming from a French speaking planet, Ponthieu, except that is should have been spelled Thomas Chênevert (green oak!). Incidentally, Ponthieu is a county in the Norman marches, north of Rouen, that is now part of Picardy, although I do not think this has anything to do with the current novel!

75 years ago

Posted in pictures with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 6, 2019 by xi'an

Juno Beach [jatp]

Posted in pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 2, 2019 by xi'an