Archive for Victoria

David Frazier’s talk on One World ABC seminar tomorrow [watch for the time!]

Posted in pictures, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 14, 2020 by xi'an

My friend and coauthor from Melbourne is giving the One World ABC seminar tomorrow. He will be talking at 10:30 UK time, 11:30 Brussels time, and 20:30 Melbourne time! On Robust and Efficient Approximate Bayesian Computation: A Minimum Distance Approach. Be on time!

research position at Monash

Posted in Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , on March 23, 2020 by xi'an

0d6a2355-30b9-43c0-97b5-0aacf0bb7060

My friends (and coauthors) Gael Martin and David Frazier forwarded me this call for a two-year research research fellow position at Monash. Working with the team there on the most exciting topic of approximate Bayes!

The Research Fellow will conduct research associated with ARC Discovery Grant DP200101414: “Loss-Based Bayesian Prediction”. This project proposes a new paradigm for prediction. Using state-of-the-art computational methods, the project aims to produce accurate, fit for purpose predictions which, by design, reduce the loss incurred when the prediction is inaccurate. Theoretical validation of the new predictive method is an expected outcome, as is extensive application of the method to diverse empirical problems, including those based on high-dimensional and hierarchical data sets. The project will exploit recent advances in Bayesian computation, including approximate Bayesian computation and variational inference, to produce predictive distributions that are expressly designed to yield accurate predictions in a given loss measure. The Research Fellow would be expected to engage in all aspects of the research and would therefore build expertise in the methodological, theoretical and empirical aspects of this new predictive approach.

Deadline is 13 May 2020. This is definitely an offer to consider!

risk-adverse Bayes estimators

Posted in Books, pictures, Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 28, 2019 by xi'an

An interesting paper came out on arXiv in early December, written by Michael Brand from Monash. It is about risk-adverse Bayes estimators, which are defined as avoiding the use of loss functions (although why avoiding loss functions is not made very clear in the paper). Close to MAP estimates, they bypass the dependence of said MAPs on parameterisation by maximising instead π(θ|x)/√I(θ), which is invariant by reparameterisation if not by a change of dominating measure. This form of MAP estimate is called the Wallace-Freeman (1987) estimator [of which I never heard].

The formal definition of a risk-adverse estimator is still based on a loss function in order to produce a proper version of the probability to be “wrong” in a continuous environment. The difference between estimator and true value θ, as expressed by the loss, is enlarged by a scale factor k pushed to infinity. Meaning that differences not in the immediate neighbourhood of zero are not relevant. In the case of a countable parameter space, this is essentially producing the MAP estimator. In the continuous case, for “well-defined” and “well-behaved” loss functions and estimators and density, including an invariance to parameterisation as in my own intrinsic losses of old!, which the author calls likelihood-based loss function,  mentioning f-divergences, the resulting estimator(s) is a Wallace-Freeman estimator (of which there may be several). I did not get very deep into the study of the convergence proof, which seems to borrow more from real analysis à la Rudin than from functional analysis or measure theory, but keep returning to the apparent dependence of the notion on the dominating measure, which bothers me.

two ABC postdocs at Monash

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , on April 4, 2017 by xi'an

For students, postdocs and faculty working on approximate inference, ABC algorithms,  and likelihood-free methods, this announcement of two postdoc positions at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, to work with Gael Martin, David Frazier and Catherine Forbes should be of strong relevance and particular interest:

The Department of Econometrics and Business Statistics at Monash is looking to fill two postdoc positions in – one for 12 months and the other for 2 years. The positions will be funded (respectively) by the following ARC Discovery grants:

1. DP150101728: “Approximate Bayesian Computation in State Space Models”. (Chief Investigators: Professor Gael Martin and Associate Professor Catherine Forbes; International Partner Investigators: Professor Brendan McCabe and Professor Christian Robert).

2. DP170100729: “The Validation of Approximate Bayesian Computation: Theory and Practice“. (Chief Investigators: Professor Gael Martin and Dr David Frazier; International Partner Investigators: Professor Christian Robert and Professor Eric Renault).

The deadline for applications is April 28th, 2017, and the nominal starting date is July, 2017 (although there is some degree of flexibility on that front).

Wilfred Keith Hastings [1930-2016]

Posted in Books, Mountains, pictures, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 9, 2016 by xi'an

A few days ago I found on the page Jeff Rosenthal has dedicated to Hastings that he has passed away peacefully on May 13, 2016 in Victoria, British Columbia, where he lived for 45 years as a professor at the University of Victoria. After holding positions at University of Toronto, University of Canterbury (New Zealand), and Bell Labs (New Jersey). As pointed out by Jeff, Hastings’ main paper is his 1970 Biometrika description of Markov chain Monte Carlo methods, Monte Carlo sampling methods using Markov chains and their applications. Which would take close to twenty years to become known to the statistics world at large, although you can trace a path through Peskun (his only PhD student) , Besag and others. I am sorry it took so long to come to my knowledge and also sorry it apparently went unnoticed by most of the computational statistics community.