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      Professor Xiao-Li Meng, “Personalized Treatment: Sounds Heavenly, but Where on Earth Did They Find the Right Guinea Pig for Me?” in Poughkeepsie


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      April 17, 2020

      Friday   3:00 PM

      124 Raymond Ave
      Poughkeepsie, New York 12604

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      Professor Xiao-Li Meng, “Personalized Treatment: Sounds Heavenly, but Where on Earth Did They Find the Right Guinea Pig for Me?”

      Professor Xiao-Li Meng to deliver the Department of Mathematics and Statistics’ annual Henry Seely White Lectures

      Are you kidding me? Surely no one should take personalized literally. Fair enough, but then how un-personalized is personalized? That is, how fuzzy should “me” become before there are enough qualified “me”s to serve as my guinea pigs? Wavelet-inspired Multi-resolution (MR) inference (Meng, 2014, COPSS 50th Anniversary Volume) allows us to theoretically frame such a question, where the primary resolution level defines the appropriate fuzziness—very much like identifying the best viewing resolution when taking a photo. Statistically, the search for the appropriate primary resolution level is a quest for a sensible bias-variance trade-off: estimating more precisely a less relevant treatment effect verses estimating less precisely but a more relevant treatment effect for “me.” Unexpectedly, the MR framework reveals a world without the bias-variance trade-off, where the personal outcome is governed deterministically by potentially infinitely many personal attributes. This world without variance apparently prefers overfitting in the lens of statistical prediction and estimation, a discovery that might provide a clue to some of the puzzling success of deep learning and the like (Li and Meng, 2020). A personal and painful story, together with a Simpson’s paradox from comparing kidney stone treatments, will be used to regale the audience.

      Xiao-Li Meng is the Whipple V. N. Jones Professor of Statistics at Harvard University and the Founding Editor-in-Chief of Harvard Data Science Review. Meng is the recipient of numerous awards and honors for his more than 150 publications in at least a dozen theoretical and methodological areas, as well as in areas of pedagogy and professional development. He has delivered more than 400 research presentations and public speeches on these topics, and he is the author of “The XL-Files”; a thought-provoking and entertaining column in the IMS (Institute of Mathematical Statistics) Bulletin. His interests range from the theoretical foundations of statistical inferences to statistical methods and computation to applications in natural, social, and medical sciences and engineering. Meng received his BS in mathematics from Fudan University in 1982 and his PhD in statistics from Harvard in 1990.

      Categories: Science

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