Archive for Use R

JSM 2009 impressions [day 3]

Posted in Books, Running, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , on August 5, 2009 by xi'an

The day started very early with the Gertrude Cox Scholarship 5k race, since my wife and I had to leave the hotel at 5:15am to catch the first metro to the RFK stadium. We met other runners in the metro and we all managed to get to the parking lot of the stadium. There were actually fewer runners than at the previous Gertrude Cox races I ran (like the first one in 1989 in D.C.), maybe around 40 of us, and the track for the race was one loop around the huge parking lot, not inside the stadium quite obviously. We started at about 6:20am in a warm humid weather and I managed to keep track with the two leaders for about one kilometer (3:38) before setting to my own pace. I stuck to a third place for the rest of the race, ending up in 18:28 about 30 seconds behind David Dunson and more than a minute behind the winner, in what felt like more than 5k.

The first session I attended was the Medallion lecture by Allistair Sinclair who talked about exact convergence speeds for MCMC algorithms in combinatorics. While the talk was beautifully organised and quite broad in reaching to the audience, I must admit I ended up being disappointed at the lack of connection with the MCMC developments found in Statistics, especially the huge corpus of work by Gareth Roberts and Jeff Rosenthal. This is another illustration of the gap between computer scientists working in combinatorics and applied probabilists, even though they are using the same tools. In the afternoon, I went to the Savage Award Finalists session, where the four finalist were presenting their PhD thesis work. Interestingly, they all have some Bayesian features in their work, albeit from different perspectives, and David Dunson managed to give a great discussion on those four theses at the same pace he ran the morning 5k! Later that day, at the SBSS (Section on Bayesian Statistical Science) mixer, the Savage Award was given to Lorenzo Trippa from Milano, now at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Texas A & M, for his extensions of Polya tree models.

I was mentioning the new books in the Use R! series in the previous post. I spotted yesterday a book by Phil Spector on Data Manipulation with R that I immediately bought because Phil’s material on R available on the web has been quite helpful in writing Introducing Monte Carlo Methods with R. (Hence the free cap!) Note that he should not be confused with the music producer Phil Spector, who worked with the Ramones and is now in jail! I incidentally spotted two copies of the paperback version of the The Bayesian Choice printed in hard-cover by mistake but sold at the paperback price. (This is due to the new print-on-demand strategy of publishers that eliminates inventory.)

JSM 2009 impressions [day 2]

Posted in Books, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 4, 2009 by xi'an

Julien Cornebise wrote his impressions on yesterday [day 2] as comments to day 1 and he is welcome as a guest editor! I completely agree with his views on George Casella’s Medallion Lecture on design, which emphasized the need to reconsider this somehow neglected part of the Statistics curriculum. George’s lecture was both passionate and broad, which made it accessible to the large audience there. It was based on his Statistical Design book, on sale at the Springer Verlag booth in the Exhibit hall when you go to check the Enigma machine at the NSA booth. Along with a whole table of new books in the Use R! series, soon to be augmented by our book Introducing Monte Carlo Methods with R with George Casella, which is available in a draft version at the booth. (We actually signed the contract for Introducing Monte Carlo Methods with R with Springer yesterday afternoon.) The Springer editor, John Kimmel, is one of the ASA Fellows this year, in recognition of his support of the dissemination of new ideas in Statistics (my wording) and this is a great initiative from the ASA committee on Fellows as he unreservedly deserves it, if only for launching the Use R! series!


As mentioned by Julien, the session on the future of Statistics was reserved to the happy “fews” who managed to get a seat and others had to stay in the “present” thanks to this safety regulation that seems to be implemented on some talks/rooms and not others. I passed the first people being stopped by a fierce guard on my way to the “past”, ie to the cosmology and astrophysics session. There, I enjoyed very much Larry Wasserman’s talk on Nonparametric estimation of filaments for uncovering a challenging problem as well as for his elegant resolution of the problem. As well as the presentation by Laura Cayon of Detection of weak lensing, where I discovered that my old Purdue friend Anirban das Gupta was also involved in cosmology. I also went to the Monte Carlo and Sequential Analyses: Methods and Applications session, organised by Mike West, but the talks were too short to make much of an impact on me, even though I appreciated the talk by Minghui Shi on Particle stochastic search for high-dimensional variable selection that linked with Nicolas Chopin’s early work on exploring a large dataset and I was also intrigued by the talk of Ioanna Manolopoulou on Targeted sequential resampling from large Data sets in mixture modeling for using proxies to the real mixture model. The day ended up with a Board meeting for ISBA, that unfortunately took place outside in a hot humid weather… I now have to get ready for the Gertrude Cox Scholarship 5k race, since it starts at 6:15am (yes, am!).

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