Conferences in the summer of 2010

by Sergiy Nesterko on August 20th, 2010

This summer I have attended Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM) in Vancouver, and have been fortunate to have been accepted to Complex Networks Opening Workshop held by Statistical and Applied Mathematical Science Institute (SAMSI) in North Carolina near Chapel Hill. Both events are exciting and intellectually stimulating.

At the JSM, there have been many interesting talks, but the definite highlights for me have been these:

  1. Degrees of Uncertainty with Uncertain Degrees in Respondent-Driven Sampling, Joe Blitzstein from Harvard Stat. This talk used some of the work we have done together, which constitutes a paper in preparation at the moment.
  2. What Can We Do When EM Is Not Applicable? Self Consistency: A General Recipe for Semiparametric and Nonparametric Estimation with Incomplete and Irregularly Spaced Data, Xiao-Li Meng, chair of Harvard Stat. This was a truly fascinating talk expanding the boundaries and going beyond EM. Also, the talk was in fact IMS Medallion Lecture.
  3. Cloud Computing for Bayesian Hidden Markov Models, Steve Scott from Google. Steve is a graduate of our department.
  4. Embracing GPU Technology in Bayesian Computation: Massively Parallel Computing on Your Desktop, Marc Suchard from UCLA.
  5. In Praise of Theory, the famous Persi Diaconis from Stanford University as part of Memorial Session for E. L. Lehmann. This talk left a very deep impression on me. First, it was such a pleasure to listen to, the presenter commented on many controversies in current statistics with such wit and intelligence, the flow and span of ideas being so breathtakingly broad. And second, Persi is a graduate of Harvard Stat, and also I am sort of Persi’s grandson as he advised my advisor Joe Blitzstein, so I felt proud to simply be there and be in a way connected to this great scientist.

As I have mentioned previously, the conference has been held in Vancouver, and I also have had a chance to explore the city. It has so much to offer, but the greatest things about it for me were seafood (oysters and sashimi), and close proximity of beautiful mountains. The city has very clean air and is at the same time high tech.

For the opening workshop on complex networks, I am to present a poster, on which I am currently working. The poster will be related to the material referenced above from Joe’s JSM talk. This event is exciting as it will be small, with many well-known specialists in the field of statistical analysis of networks attending. It has been designed to encourage collaboration and sharing of ideas. I am thus looking forward to it to get comments and feedback, and to also bring our work out there. My advisor Joe Blitzstein will be there, and my other collaborator from Harvard Stat Edo Airoldi will present as well.

Overall, the summer is going well, and I am happy to have had a chance to participate in these conferences. I look forward to the academic year, new problems and exciting ideas.

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