Archive for Savage award

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…

day three at ISBA 22

Posted in Mountains, pictures, Running, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 1, 2022 by xi'an

Still woke up early too early [to remain operational for the poster session], finalised the selection of our MASH 2022/3 students, then returned to the Jean-Drapeau pool, which was  even more enjoyable in a crisp bright blue morning (and hardly anyone in my lane).

Attended a talk by Li Ma, who reviewed complexifying stick-breaking priors on the weights and introduced a balanced tree stick mechanism (why same depth?) (with links to Jara & Hanson 2010 and Stefanucci & Canale 2021). Then I listened to Giovanni Rebaubo creating clustering Gibbs-type processes along graphs, I sorted of dozed and missed the point as it felt as if the graph turned from a conceptual connection into a physical one! Catherine Forbes talked about a sequential version of stochastic variational approximation (published in St&Co) exploiting the update-one-at-a-time feature of Bayesian construction, except that each step relies on the previous approximation, meaning that the final—if fin there is!—approximation can end up far away from the optimal stochastic variational approximation. Assessing the divergence away from the target (in real time and tight budget would be nice).

After a quick lunch where I tasted seaweed-shell gyozas (!), I went to the generalised Bayesian inference session on Gibbs posteriors, [sort of] making up for the missed SAVI workshop! With Alice Kirichenko (Warwick) deriving information complexity bounds under misspecification, plus deriving an optimal value for the [vexing] coefficient η [in the Gibbs posterior], and Jack Jewson (ex-Warwick), raising the issue of improper models within Gibbs posteriors, although the reference or dominating measure is a priori arbitrary in these settings. But missing the third talk, about Gibbs posteriors again, and Chris Homes’ discussion, to attend part of the Savage (thesis) Award, with finalists Marta Catalano (Warwick faculty), Aditi Shenvi (Warwick student), and John O’Leary (an academic grand-children of mine’s as Pierre Jacob was his advisor). What a disappointment to have to wait for Friday night to hear the outcome!

I must confess to some  (French-speaker) énervement at hearing Mon(t)-réal massacred as Mon-t-real..! A very minor hindrance though, when put in perspective with my friend and Warwick colleague Gareth Roberts forced to evacuate his hotel last night due to a fire in basement, fortunately unscathed but ruining Day 3 for him… (Making me realise the conference hotel itself underwent a similar event 14 years ago.)

ISBA 2021 grand finale

Posted in Kids, Mountains, pictures, Running, Statistics, Travel, University life, Wines with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 3, 2021 by xi'an

Last day of ISBA (and ISB@CIRM), or maybe half-day, since there are only five groups of sessions we can attend in Mediterranean time.

My first session was one on priors for mixtures, with 162⁺ attendees at 5:15am! (well, at 11:15 Wien or Marseille time), Gertrud Malsiner-Walli distinguishing between priors on number of components [in the model] vs number of clusters [in the data], with a minor question of mine whether or not a “prior” is appropriate for a data-dependent quantity. And Deborah Dunkel presenting [very early in the US!] anchor models for fighting label switching, which reminded me of the talk she gave at the mixture session of JSM 2018 in Vancouver. (With extensions to consistency and mixtures of regression.) And Clara Grazian debating on objective priors for the number of components in a mixture [in the Sydney evening], using loss functions to build these. Overall it seems there were many talks on mixtures and clustering this year.

After the lunch break, when several ISB@CIRM were about to leave, we ran the Objective Bayes contributed session, which actually included several Stein-like minimaxity talks. Plus one by Théo Moins from the patio of CIRM, with ciccadas in the background. Incredibly chaired by my friend Gonzalo, who had a question at the ready for each and every speaker! And then the Savage Awards II session. Which ceremony is postponed till Montréal next year. And which nominees are uniformly impressive!!! The winner will only be announced in September, via the ISBA Bulletin. Missing the ISBA general assembly for a dinner in Cassis. And being back for the Bayesian optimisation session.

I would have expected more talks at the boundary of BS & ML (as well as COVID and epidemic decision making), the dearth of which should be a cause for concern if researchers at this boundary do not prioritise ISBA meetings over more generic meetings like NeurIPS… (An exception was George Papamakarios’ talk on variational autoencoders in the Savage Awards II session.)

Many many thanks to the group of students at UConn involved in setting most of the Whova site and running the support throughout the conference. It indeed went on very smoothly and provided a worthwhile substitute for the 100% on-site version. Actually, I both hope for the COVID pandemic (or at least the restrictions attached to it) to abate and for the hybrid structure of meetings to stay, along with the multiplication of mirror workshops. Being together is essential to the DNA of conferences, but travelling to a single location is not so desirable, for many reasons. Looking for ISBA 2022, a year from now, either in Montréal, Québec, or in one of the mirror sites!

Savage Award session today at JSM

Posted in Kids, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 3, 2020 by xi'an

Pleased to broadcast the JSM session dedicated to the 2020 Savage Award, taking place today at 13:00 ET (17:00 GMT), with two of the Savage nominees being former OxWaSP students (and Warwick PhD students). For those who have not registered for JSM, the talks are also available on Bayeslab. (As it happens, I was also a member of the committee this year, but do not think this could be deemed a CoI!)

112 Mon, 8/3/2020, 1:00 PM – 2:50 PM Virtual
Savage Award Session — Invited Papers
International Society for Bayesian Analysis (ISBA)
Organizer(s): Maria De Iorio, University College London
Chair(s): Maria De Iorio, University College London
1:05 PM Bayesian Dynamic Modeling and Forecasting of Count Time Series
Lindsay Berry, Berry Consultants
1:30 PM Machine Learning Using Approximate Inference: Variational and Sequential Monte Carlo Methods
Christian Andersson Naesseth, Columbia University
1:55 PM Recent Advances in Bayesian Probabilistic Numerical Integration
Francois-Xavier Briol, University College London
2:20 PM Factor regression for dimensionality reduction and data integration techniques with applications to cancer data
Alejandra Avalos Pacheco, Harvard Medical School
2:45 PM Floor Discussion

JSM 2015 [day #2]

Posted in Books, R, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2015 by xi'an

Today, at JSM 2015, in Seattle, I attended several Bayesian sessions, having sadly missed the Dennis Lindley memorial session yesterday, as it clashed with my own session. In the morning sessions on Bayesian model choice, David Rossell (Warwick) defended non-local priors à la Johnson (& Rossell) as having better frequentist properties. Although I appreciate the concept of eliminating a neighbourhood of the null in the alternative prior, even from a Bayesian viewpoint since it forces us to declare explicitly when the null is no longer acceptable, I find the asymptotic motivation for the prior less commendable and open to arbitrary choices that may lead to huge variations in the numerical value of the Bayes factor. Another talk by Jin Wang merged spike and slab with EM with bootstrap with random forests in variable selection. But I could not fathom what the intended properties of the method were… Besides returning another type of MAP.

The second Bayesian session of the morn was mostly centred on sparsity and penalisation, with Carlos Carvalho and Rob McCulloch discussing a two step method that goes through a standard posterior  construction on the saturated model, before using a utility function to select the pertinent variables. Separation of utility from prior was a novel concept for me, if not for Jay Kadane who objected to Rob a few years ago that he put in the prior what should be in the utility… New for me because I always considered the product prior x utility as the main brick in building the Bayesian edifice… Following Herman Rubin’s motto! Veronika Rocková linked with this post-LASSO perspective by studying spike & slab priors based on Laplace priors. While Veronicka’s goal was to achieve sparsity and consistency, this modelling made me wonder at the potential equivalent in our mixtures for testing approach. I concluded that having a mixture of two priors could be translated in a mixture over the sample with two different parameters, each with a different prior. A different topic, namely multiple testing, was treated by Jim Berger, who showed convincingly in my opinion that a Bayesian approach provides a significant advantage.

In the afternoon finalists of the ISBA Savage Award presented their PhD work, both in the theory and  methods section and in the application section. Besides Veronicka Rocková’s work on a Bayesian approach to factor analysis, with a remarkable resolution via a non-parametric Indian buffet prior and a variable selection interpretation that avoids MCMC difficulties, Vinayak Rao wrote his thesis on MCMC methods for jump processes with a finite number of observations, using a highly convincing completion scheme that created independence between blocks and which reminded me of the Papaspiliopoulos et al. (2005) trick for continuous time processes. I do wonder at the potential impact of this method for processing the coalescent trees in population genetics. Two talks dealt with inference on graphical models, Masanao Yajima and  Christine Peterson, inferring the structure of a sparse graph by Bayesian methods.  With applications in protein networks. And with again a spike & slab prior in Christine’s work. The last talk by Sayantan Banerjee was connected to most others in this Savage session in that it also dealt with sparsity. When estimating a large covariance matrix. (It is always interesting to try to spot tendencies in awards and conferences. Following the Bayesian non-parametric era, are we now entering the Bayesian sparsity era? We will see if this is the case at ISBA 2016!) And the winner is..?! We will know tomorrow night! In the meanwhile, congrats to my friends Sudipto Banerjee, Igor Prünster, Sylvia Richardson, and Judith Rousseau who got nominated IMS Fellows tonight.

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