Archive for Springer-Verlag

STEM forums

Posted in Books, R, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , on August 15, 2014 by xi'an

“I can calculate the movement of stars, but not the madness of men.” Isaac Newton

When visiting the exhibition hall at JSM 2014, I spoke with people from STEM forums on the Springer booth. The concept of STEM (why STEM? Nothing to do with STAN! Nor directly with Biology. It stands as the accronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.) is to create a sort of peer-reviewed Cross Validated where questions would be filtered (in order to avoid the most basic questions like “How can I learn about Bayesian statistics without opening a book?” or “What is the Binomial distribution?” that often clutter the Stack Exchange boards). That’s an interesting approach which I will monitor in the future, as on the one hand, it would be nice to have a Statistics forum without “lazy undergraduate” questions as one of my interlocutors put, and on the other hand, to see how STEM forums can compete with the well-established Cross Validated and its core of dedicated moderators and editors. I left the booth with a neat tee-shirt exhibiting the above quote as well as alpha-tester on the back: STEM forums is indeed calling for entries into the Statistics section, with rewards of ebooks for the first 250 entries and a sweepstakes offering a free trip to Seattle next year!

Bayesian essentials with R available on amazon

Posted in Books, R, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , on November 14, 2013 by xi'an

coverBayesian Essentials with R is now available both as an e-book and as a hardcover book on!

essential cover!

Posted in Books, R, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , on October 23, 2013 by xi'an

coverOur book is nearly out..! The Springer webpage is ready, we have sent the proofs back, amazon is missing has now included the above picture, things are moving towards the publication date, supposed to be November 30. Just in time for Christmas! And not too early given that we packed off in early February…

Journal of Statistical Distributions and Applications

Posted in Books, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , on April 18, 2013 by xi'an

I just got an email about a

*Springer* on a new *peer-reviewed, open access journal*

whose sole aim seems to generate more revenue for Springer. Indeed, papers published in this journal are charged $1025 each. Which is about the cost for a single subscription to the overpriced if scientifically excellent Statistics and Computing. (It takes a serious effort to discover the subscription rate of a Springer journal on their website!)

Indeed, I am quite surprised at a journal focussing on statistical distributions. What is a statistical distribution, exactly? The era when one would discover a new probability distribution in connection with a statistical estimation or testing problem and call it t, F, or Beta, seems long long gone! Just as gone as the production of statistical tables.  (This is also why I wrote such a negative review of The Handbook of Fitting Distributions.) The webpage of the journal indicates that

The scopes include, but are not limited to, development and study of statistical distributions, frequentist and Bayesian statistical inference including goodness-of-fit tests, statistical modeling, computational/simulation methods, and data analysis related to statistical distributions. Significant and well-written articles on theory and methods in areas of statistical distributions and their applications will be considered for publication.

but this sounds so broad as to cover almost any statistical paper. So I am wondering at the purpose of this journal, except as an experimentation in “open access” commercial journals that are fully supported by the authors, in essence making grants pay twice for research.

packed off!!!

Posted in Books, pictures, R, Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 9, 2013 by xi'an

La Défense, Paris, Feb. 04, 2013Deliverance!!! We have at last completed our book! Bayesian Essentials with R is off my desk! In a final nitty-gritty day of compiling and recompiling the R package bayess and the LaTeX file, we have reached versions that were in par with our expectations. The package has been submitted to CRAN (it has gone back and forth a few times, with requests to lower the computing time in the examples: each example should take less than 10s, then 5s…), then accepted by CRAN, incl. a Windows version, and the book has be sent to Springer-Verlag. This truly is a deliverance for me as this book project has been on my work horizon almost constantly for more than the past two years, led to exciting times in Luminy, Carnon and Berlin, has taken an heavy toll on my collaborations and research activities, and was slowly turning into a unsavoury chore! I am thus delighted Jean-Michel and I managed to close the door before any disastrous consequence on either the book or our friendship could develop. Bayesian Essentials with R is certainly an improvement compared with Bayesian Core, primarily by providing a direct access to the R code. We dearly hope it will attract a wider readership by reducing the mathematical requirements (even though some parts are still too involved for most undergraduates) and we will keep testing it with our own students in Montpellier and Paris over the coming months. In the meanwhile, I just enjoy this feeling of renewed freedom!!!

E&I review in Theory and Decision

Posted in Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , on March 16, 2012 by xi'an

A few days ago, while in Roma, I got the good news that my review of Error and Inference had been accepted by Theory and Decision. Great! Then today I got a second email asking me to connect to a Springer site entitled “Services for Authors” with the following message:

Dear Christian Robert!
Thank you for publishing your paper in one of Springer’s journals.

Article Title: Error and Inference: an outsider stand on a frequentist philosophy
Journal: Theory and Decision
DOI: 10.1007/s11238-012-9298-3

Make your Choice

In order to facilitate the production and publication of your article we need further information from you relating to:

  • Please indicate if you would like to publish your article as open access with Springer’s Open Choice option (by paying a publication fee or as a result of an agreement between your funder/institution and Springer). I acknowledge that publishing my article with open access costs € 2000 / US $3000 and that this choice is final and cannot be cancelled later.
  • Please transfer the copyright, if you do not publish your articles as open access.
  • Please indicate if you would like to have your figures printed in color.
  • Please indicate if you would like to order offprints. You have the opportunity to order a poster of your article against a fee of €50 per poster. The poster features the cover page of the issue your article is published in together with the article title and the names of all contributing authors.

Now I feel rather uncomfortable with the above options since I do not see why I should pay a huge amount 2000 € for having my work/review made again available. Since it is already freely accessible on arXiv. And it is only a book-review, for Gutenberg’s sake! Last year, we made our PNAS paper available as Open Access, but this was (a) cheaper and (b) an important result, or so we thought! The nice part of the message was that for once I did not have to sign and send back a paper copy of the copyright agreement as with so many journals and as if we still were in the 19th Century… (I do not see the point in the poster, though!)

an academic book reviewer???

Posted in Books, Statistics with tags , , , on January 30, 2012 by xi'an

I just noticed two recent and highly negative reviews of Monte Carlo Statistical Methods on amazon:

 1. I was trying to read this book in details on importance sampling. It wasted me a few hours looking at the detailed mathematically formula in the corresponding section in the book without getting a clear high level picture. The convoluted examples given the section is more than necessary. Eventually, I found this series of video lecture from mathematicalmonk on youtube.

If you compare the book with this series of video, I believe you will agree this book diverse a 2 star. Technically this book may be sophisticated. But just by sampling the important sampling section and checking a few other sections in the book, I think that I can conclude fairly safely that if there is anything that a reader don’t understand in the book, it is the author’s fault but not the readers.


2. This review is about the material quality of the printing in the copy I received. This is not about the content.

I have access to a real copy of this edition in the local library. It is the usual high quality hardcover: it has a matte cover with texture, beautifully bound; the paper inside is high-quality, very soft and slightly off-white; and the printing of the text is very sharp. The version I received from Amazon claimed to be exactly the same, but was very different:
– The hardcover was shiny, did not have texture, and had a natural tendency to bend strongly outwards, it even cannot stay opened if I leave it alone, it will close.
– The paper inside is whiter, horribly white, like standard printing A4 paper;
– The text printing looks like a cheap photocopy of the original. It don’t even match a home laser printer. Some formulas are difficult to read. Moreover, some pages are not even centered.

It looks and feels like a cheap knock-off photocopy done in a garage. When I pay a lot of money for a hardcover edition I want the real thing, not a cheap knock-off. Authors should avoid their work being degraded with this cheap printing.

and I thought the ‘Og readers might be interested! The second reviewer’s complaint may be about a scam my friend Julien also fall victim to, people pretending to sell the original and making cheap copies. The reviewer should have asked for a refund or else should have returned the book, that’s all.  Nothing us authors can do anything about. Now it may also be a case of poor print-on-demand output from the publisher itself. I have enquired with Springer to see if this may be the case.

The first review from “academic book reviewer” is much more hilarious. And not only for the grammar. The on-line course by mathematicalmonk is a nice explanation I would also recommend to students. However, this on-line course uses about the same arguments as ours and, at some point, the reader (of a graduate mathematical text) needs to get to the foundations of the method(s) and this requires some advanced mathematics. This is missed by a reader who is apparently not much of an academic [reviewer]. (Most of his/her reviews are of the same whining nature.) Still, I love the above line “if there is anything that a reader don’t (sic) understand in the book, it is the author’s fault but not the readers“! I will certainly keep that in mind for future book reviews.


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