Archive for optimisation

master project?

Posted in Books, Kids, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , on July 25, 2022 by xi'an

A potential master project for my students next year inspired by an X validated question: given a Gaussian mixture density

f(x)\propto\sum_{i=1}^m \omega_i \sigma^{-1}\,\exp\{-(x-\mu_i)^2/2\sigma^2\}

with m known, the weights summing up to one, and the (prior) information that all means are within (-C,C), derive the parameters of this mixture from a sufficiently large number of evaluations of f. Pay attention to the numerical issues associated with the resolution.  In a second stage, envision this problem from an exponential spline fitting perspective and optimise the approach if feasible.

dice and sticks

Posted in Books, Kids, R with tags , , , , , , on November 19, 2021 by xi'an

A quick weekend riddle from the Riddler about the probability of getting a sequence of increasing numbers from dice with an increasing number of faces, eg 4-, 6-, and 8-face dice. Which happens to be 1/4. By sheer calculation (à la Gauss) or simple enumération (à la R):

> for(i in 1:4)for(j in (i+1):6)F=F+(8-j)
> F/4/6/8
[1] 0.25

The less-express riddle is an optimisation problem related with stick breaking: given a stick of length one, propose a fraction a and win (1-a) if a Uniform x is less than one. Since the gain is a(1-a) the maximal average gain is associated with a=½. Now, if the remaining stick (1-a) can be divided when x>a, what is the sequence of fractions one should use when the gain is the length of the remaining stick? With two attempts only, the optimal gain is still ¼. And a simulation experiment with three attempts again returns ¼.


data assimilation and reduced modelling for high-D problems [CIRM]

Posted in Books, Kids, Mountains, pictures, Running, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 8, 2021 by xi'an

Next summer, from 19 July till 27 August, there will be a six week program at CIRM on the above theme, bringing together scientists from both the academic and industrial communities. The program includes a one-week summer school followed by 5 weeks of research sessions on projects proposed by academic and industrial partners.

Confirmed speakers of the summer school (Jul 19-23) are:

  • Albert Cohen (Sorbonne University)
  • Masoumeh Dashti (University of Sussex)
  • Eric Moulines (Ecole Polytechnique)
  • Anthony Nouy (Ecole Centrale de Nantes)
  • Claudia Schillings (Mannheim University)

Junior participants may apply for fellowships to cover part or the whole stay. Registration and application to fellowships will be open soon.

Fermat’s Riddle

Posted in Books, Kids, R with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 16, 2020 by xi'an

·A Fermat-like riddle from the Riddler (with enough room to code on the margin)

An  arbitrary positive integer N is to be written as a difference of two distinct positive integers. What are the impossible cases and else can you provide a list of all distinct representations?

Since the problem amounts to finding a>b>0 such that


both (a+b) and (a-b) are products of some of the prime factors in the decomposition of N and both terms must have the same parity for the average a to be an integer. This eliminates decompositions with a single prime factor 2 (and N=1). For other cases, the following R code (which I could not deposit on because of the packages R.utils!) returns a list

bitz<-function(i,m) #int2bits
  for(i in 1:2^m){

For instance,

> ridl(1456)
     [,1] [,2]
[1,]  365  363
[2,]  184  180
[3,]   95   87
[4,]   59   45
[5,]   40   12
[6,]   41   15

Checking for the most prolific N, up to 10⁶, I found that N=6720=2⁶·3·5·7 produces 20 different decompositions. And that N=887,040=2⁸·3²·5·7·11 leads to 84 distinct differences of squares.

another easy Riddler

Posted in Books, Kids, R with tags , , , , on January 31, 2020 by xi'an

A quick riddle from the Riddler

In a two-person game, Abigail and Zian both choose between a and z. Abigail win one point with probability .9 if they choose (a,a) and with probability 1 if they choose (a,z), and two points with probability .4 if they choose (z,z) and with probability .6 if they choose (z,a). Find the optimal probabilities δ and ς of choosing a for both Abigail and Zian when δ is known to Zian.

Since the average gain for Abigail is δ(1-.1ς)+2(1-δ)(.4+.2ς) the riddle sums up as solving the minmax problem

\max_\delta \min_\varsigma\delta(1-.1\varsigma)+2(1-\delta)(.4+.2\varsigma)

the solution in ς is either 0 or 1 depending on δ being smaller or larger than 12/22, which leads to this value as the expected gain. The saddlepoint is hardly visible in the above image. While ς is either 0 or 1 in the optimal setting,  a constant choice of 1 or 0 would modify the optimal for δ except that Abigail must declare her value of δ!

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