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Dear All, The spring programme of Statistics seminars at the University of Kent at Canterbury is given below. All are welcome to attend (no registration necessary). For full details visit http://www.kent.ac.uk/IMS/seminars/index.html#statistics Prof. Prof. Alastair Young (Imperial College London) February 4 Title: Objective Bayes and Conditional Probability Matching In Bayesian parametric inference, in the absence of subjective prior information about the parameter of interest, it is natural to consider use of an objective prior which leads to posterior probability quantiles which have, at least to some higher order approximation in terms of the sample size, the correct frequentist interpretation. Such priors are termed probability matching priors. In many circumstances, however, the appropriate frequentist inference is a conditional one. The key contexts involve inference in multi-parameter exponential families, where conditioning eliminates the nuisance parameter, and models which admit ancillary statistics, where conditioning on the ancillary is indicated by the conditionality principle of inference. In this talk, we consider conditions on the prior under which posterior quantiles have, to high order, the correct conditional frequentist interpretation. We focus on the exponential family context, where it turns out that a sufficient condition for higher order conditional frequentist accuracy reduces to a condition on the model, not the prior. When the condition is satisfied, as it is in many key situations, any first order probability matching prior (in the unconditional sense) automatically yields higher order conditional probability matching. Prof. John Kent (University of Leeds) February 11 Title: Procrustes methods in projective shape analysis Projective shape refers to information recorded on a camera image that is invariant under changes of the camera view. It is an important tool in machine vision for identifying common features in images of the same scene taken from different camera angles. The simplest example is the cross ratio for 4 points on a line. In this talk we describe the beginnings of a metric theory for projective shape which provides the tools needed to estimate shape averages and shape variability. The methodology is analogous to the more familiar Procrustes methodology for similarity shape analysis. Dr. Robert Gramacy (University of Cambridge) February 25 Title: Particle Learning for Sequential Design and Optimization We devise a sequential Monte Carlo method, via particle learning (PL), for on-line sampling from the posterior distribution of two static non-parametric regression models: (1) Gaussian processes (GPs), a typical choice for the sequential design of computer experiments and optimization; and (2) a new dynamical tree model inspired by Bayesian CART. Online PL of these models, coupled with active learning heuristics (such as the ALM/C algorithms and the expected improvement), represents a thrifty approach to sequential design compared to MCMC which must be re-started and iterated to convergence with the inclusion of each new design point. Our empirical results demonstrate that the PL approach yields comparable (with GPs) and better (with trees) sequential designs compared to similar and higher-powered methods using MCMC inference, and (both) at a fraction of the computational cost. We also demonstrate how the ensemble aspects of PL lead to a better exploration of the posterior distribution compared to MCMC, which can suffer from mixing problems. This is joint work with Nicholas Polson and Matthew Taddy, both at the University of Chicago, Booth school of business Prof. Steffen Lauritzen (Oxford University) March 4 Professor P. E. Jupp (University of St. Andrews) March 18 Prof. Jonathan Forster (University of Southampton) March 25 Bayesian model averaging for categorical data --------------------------------------------It is common for multivariate categorical data (which may be represented as a contingency table) to be unbalanced or sparse, particularly when the dimensionality is large. Then, estimating cell probabilities, or predicting the unobserved population in a finite population sampling analysis, typically relies on some kind of modelling to provide smoothed estimates. In this talk I will investigate Bayesian model averaging as a estimation method for multivariate categorical data which allows multiple models to be entertained. I will discuss default choices of model class, and of prior distributions on model parameters, across a range of applications. Dr. Efang Kong (University of Kent at Canterbury) April 8