Archive for Orsay

climbing encounters

Posted in Mountains, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2020 by xi'an

A nice if easy climbing morn on Éperon de Bouchier (à ne pas confondre avec Crochet de Boucher!) a week ago with a local guide, François, who happened to be a formidable character (even conditioning on him being guide). He left school at 14 to become a car mechanic, join the French Navy at 16, caught tuberculosis on a Navy basis, was sent to the Alps for recovery, caught a fatal and definite mountain attraction while there, got training supported by the Navy for an higher mechanic degree, took qualification courses to become a French mountain guide, started being interested in learning techniques and abilities through his training ski schools, experimented new teaching methods with kids from the Marseille suburbs,  eventually joined a Master in biomechanics and ergonomy at Orsay and ended up with a thesis on the topic, worked with French ski federation and a French ski brand, and is still guiding, training and researching despite having passed the retirement age! A wonderful chance encounter, with the facility of the route making chatting not an issue. (Except that some puritan ayatollah had recently removed most of the bolts, which did not make things harder in the end but exhibited an absurd degree of self-righteousness on a route that easy…)

And then an even more rewarding climb today with another local guide, Cathy, who gave me a great and profitable climbing lesson for over three hours, allowing me to reach a higher climbing level than I had previously achieved on an outside route. With a high degree of pedagogy and support. I ended up fairly tired, but exhilaratedly so!


Posted in pictures, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 15, 2019 by xi'an

There is a conference on mixtures (M) and hidden Markov models (H) and clustering (C) taking place in Orsay on June 17-19, next year. Registration is free if compulsory. With about twenty confirmed speakers. (Irrelevant as the following remark is, this is the opportunity to recall the conference on mixtures I organised in Aussois 25 years before! Which website is amazingly still alive at Duke, thanks to Mike West, my co-organiser along with Kathryn Roeder and Gilles Celeux. When checking the abstracts, I found only two presenters common to both conferences, Christophe Biernaki and Jiahua Chen. And alas several names of departed friends.)

permanent position for research on computational statistics and “omics” data

Posted in pictures, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , on February 4, 2019 by xi'an

There is an opening at the French agronomy and genetics research centre, INRA, for a permanent research position on the country campus of Joyu-en-Josas, south-west of Paris, with focus on computational statistics (incl. machine-learning) and collaborations on omics data. The deadline is March 4. (The procedure is somewhat involved, as detailed in the guide for candidates.) I want to stress this is a highly attractive position in terms of academic surroundings (research only campus, nearby Paris=Saclay and Orsay campuses), of location (Paris in the fields), and of status since permanent really means permanent!

Institut de Mathématique d’Orsay [jatp]

Posted in pictures, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , on February 15, 2018 by xi'an

[ex?] Paris-Saclay univerXity

Posted in Kids, pictures, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 5, 2017 by xi'an

In the plane to Warwick last Tuesday, I read a fairly long and pessimistic article in Le Monde about the future of the Paris-Saclay university. This debate presumably makes no sense outside French circles, for it relates to the century-old opposition between universities and grandes écoles, these selective engineering and business schools that operate independently from the university structure. In the sense that the selection and the schooling of their students is completely separated, meaning these students may never attend a university program if they choose to do so. But not so independently in terms of hiring part-time professors from universities and sharing resources for their Master programs. And depending on the same agencies (like CNRS) for funding their research program.

Anyway, the core message of this article was that the influence of former students from Polytechnique [aka X] in the high administration is such that they can prevent the integration of the different engineer schools on the Saclay plateau into the intended superstructure of the Paris-Saclay university. And turn this somewhat megalomanic Paris-Saclay project initiated by Nicolas Sarkozy into a mere geographical superposition of separate institutions, with very unequal State funding, perpetuating the two speed regime for public higher education… And a ever more confusing international image that will not help an inch moving up the Shanghai ranking (a major reason for Sarkozy pushing this project). Very French indeed!