Archive for University of Cambridge

Le Monde on the “dangers” of mathematics

Posted in Books, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , on October 12, 2015 by xi'an

“La responsabilité des mathématiciens semble engagée.”

This post is presumably aiming at a very small (French speaking) audience, but Le Monde published a central Science leaflet this week on the dangers of using uncontrolled mathematical modelling. Resulting in a mismatch of platitudes and absurdities. Blaming mathematicians for about every misappropriate use of mathematics and even more statistics, from the lack of reproducibility in published psychology studies and the poor predictions of flu epidemics by Google to the sub-prime crisis and the prosecutor fallacy. Quoting judicial miscarriages like the case of Lucy de Berk when the statistical arguments were administrated by a psychologist, while a statistician, Richard Gill, was instrumental in reopening the case by demonstrating those arguments were wrong. Objecting to the use of logistic regression for profiling inmates on the probability of recidivism. &tc., &tc… The only item of interest in this really poor article is the announcement of a semester workshop at the Isaac Newton Institute on the use of mathematics in criminal sciences. Which after verification is a workshop on probability and statistics in forensic sciences. With Richard Gill as one of the organisers.

Alan Turing Institute

Posted in Books, pictures, Running, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 10, 2015 by xi'an

 

The University of Warwick is one of the five UK Universities (Cambridge, Edinburgh, Oxford, Warwick and UCL) to be part of the new Alan Turing Institute.To quote from the University press release,  “The Institute will build on the UK’s existing academic strengths and help position the country as a world leader in the analysis and application of big data and algorithm research. Its headquarters will be based at the British Library at the centre of London’s Knowledge Quarter.” The Institute will gather researchers from mathematics, statistics, computer sciences, and connected fields towards collegial and focussed research , which means in particular that it will hire a fairly large number of researchers in stats and machine-learning in the coming months. The Department of Statistics at Warwick was strongly involved in answering the call for the Institute and my friend and colleague Mark Girolami will the University leading figure at the Institute, alas meaning that we will meet even less frequently! Note that the call for the Chair of the Alan Turing Institute is now open, with deadline on March 15. [As a personal aside, I find the recognition that Alan Turing’s genius played a pivotal role in cracking the codes that helped us win the Second World War. It is therefore only right that our country’s top universities are chosen to lead this new institute named in his honour. by the Business Secretary does not absolve the legal system that drove Turing to suicide….]

Bill Fitzgerald (1948-2014)

Posted in Books, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , on April 4, 2014 by xi'an

 

Just heard a very sad item of news: our colleague and friend Bill Fitzgerald, Head of Research in the Signal Processing Laboratory in the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge, Fellow of Christ’s College, co-founder and Chairman of Featurespace, and fanatic guitar player, passed away yesterday. He wrote one of the very first books on MCMC with Joseph Ó Ruanaidh, Numerical Bayesian Methods Applied to Signal Processing, in 1996. On a more personal level, he invited me to Cambridge for my first visit there  in 1998 and he thus was influential in introducing me to my friends Christophe Andrieu and Arnaud Doucet. Farewell, Bill!, and may the blessing of the rain be on you…

winter trees (3)

Posted in pictures, Travel, University life with tags , , , , on February 28, 2012 by xi'an

an all-inclusive Cambridge experience

Posted in pictures, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , on February 1, 2012 by xi'an

My trip to Cambridge last week was very enjoyable: I have visited Cambridge and the (terrific) Isaac Newton institute enough times in the past twenty years to know my way around and to look forward my next visit… However, having the opportunity of staying in St John’s College with a room next to the Cam river and attending a formal dinner in the magnificent Dinning Hall was a wonderful new experience!

I am always amazed (and obviously envious) of the facilities offered to both students and faculty living in the colleges (not mentioning of course the rich intellectual atmosphere both in colleges and at the faculty of mathematics, expressed e.g. by an astounding list of seminars). My seminar on ABC model choice was well-attended and discussed, despite being at 4pm a Friday afternoon (maybe the beer social in the faculty upstairs right after helped!). And I had time to work quietly on multiple-try MCMC, following thoughts raised both by the comments on the related post and the GPU meeting in Warwick. Add great weather and the opportunity to go for a run next to the rowers in the morning to make for a great (short) trip.

room with a view (2)

Posted in pictures, Travel, University life with tags , , , on January 29, 2012 by xi'an

room with a view [St John’s College, Cambridge]

Posted in pictures, Travel, University life with tags , , on January 26, 2012 by xi'an