#TIAU (The Infrequent And Unlikely, January 12, 2019):

Could traits trend? What do you want to detect? Are there many more rare species than common species? When is the past representative of the future? Are all models wrong and precarious? What, then, is evidence? Can surprises be modeled? Do unlikely events often happen in very likely ways? Are correlations higher on extremes? Are rare species more redundant? How might one find proxies for rarities? Is likelihood a comparative measure of  ‘distance’ from the truth to the model? Is it trivial to select the most ‘likely’ model when given the data? Are inferences always highly model-dependent (especially for rare events)? What leads to thin or thick tails? Do rare events need sensitive (&, not robust) models? When does simulation help? Is extinction often followed by speciation? Why did a tree go extinct with the dodos? Do all elk have a certain (statistically significant) ‘elkness’? Do hyper-connected markets or systems increase the overall ruin risk? Would certain blackouts, shutdowns, collapses, and perfect storms be designed away in the future? &, will we continue to adapt and, somehow, escape our inevitable fate? SynTalk thinks about these & more questions using concepts from applied probability (Prof. Sandeep Juneja, TIFR, Mumbai), statistics (Prof. Subhash Lele, University of Alberta, Edmonton), & conservation biology (Dr. Karthikeyan Vasudevan, CCMB, Hyderabad).

Listen in…

SynTalk is pleased and privileged to have hosted the following SynTalkrs (in alphabetical order) on its #TIAU show.

Prof. Sandeep Juneja (applied probability) is Professor and Dean at the School of Technology and Computer Science in Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai. His research interests lie in applied probability including in mathematical finance, Monte Carlo methods, and game theoretic analysis of queues. He received his B. Tech. in Mechanical Engineering from IIT Delhi (1989). He then went to Stanford University (USA) to complete his M. S. in Statistics (1992) and Ph.D. in Operations Research (1993). Thereafter he worked for a financial credit insurance company (American Credit Indemnity) in Baltimore, USA, and Andersen Consulting in India. From December 1996 to December 2002 he was a faculty in the Operations Research Group in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at IIT Delhi. He has held visiting positions at several places including at Columbia University, Stanford University and Indian School of Business (ISB). In the year 2008, he headed the quantitative activity in Bank of America’s Indian operations. He was then also a member of the Bank of America’s executive quantitative council. He is currently on the editorial board of Stochastic Systems, and was previously on editorial boards of Mathematics of Operations Research, Management Science and ACM TOMACS (Transactions on Modeling and Computer Simulation). He has taught financial mathematics to quantitative associates of leading MNC investment banks based in India, and also served as an adjunct faculty at Centre for Advanced Financial Research and Learning (CAFRAL), a research wing of RBI. He is a recipient of IBM Faculty Partnership Award (2001-2002).

Prof. Subhash Lele (statistics) is a Professor of Statistics in the Department of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta (Canada). He has been at the University of Alberta since 1999. Prior to that he was Assistant and Associate Professor of Biostatistics at the Department of Biostatistics, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA. His research interests have spanned the fields of statistics (hierarchical models, Markov Chain Monte Carlo Methods, spatial statistics, sampling theory, statistical inference, theory of estimating functions, etc.), physical anthropology, public health and infectious diseases and genomics. He is currently most interested in developing statistical methods relevant to solving important ecological and environmental issues. He received his Ph.D. in Statistics from the Pennsylvania State University (1987), after having received his M.A. (1982) & B.A. (1979) in Statistics from the University of Poona, Pune. He has served on editorial boards of statistical journals, namely, the Journal of the American Statistical Association, Environmental and Ecological Statistics and also ecological journals, such as, Ecology and Ecological Monographs, Journal of Wildlife Management and Journal of Animal Ecology. He has also served on various national and international committees including committees of the US National Academy of Sciences. He has worked as a statistical consultant for the Alberta government and Yukon government as well as consulting companies working on environmental issues. Also, he is an elected member of the International Statistical Institute.

Dr. Karthikeyan Vasudevan (conservation biology) is the Senior Principal Scientist (Group Leader), at the Laboratory for Conservation of Endangered Species, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad. His research interests are conservation biology, community ecology, macroecology, biogeography, taxonomy, systematics and ecology of amphibians and reptiles. He completed his B.Sc. (Zoology, 1992) from Loyola College (Chennai), and M.Sc. (Zoology, 1994) from Annamalai University (Chennai). He then went to University of Edinburgh (UK) to acquire a Master’s degree in Applied Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare (1995) and came back to India to complete his Ph.D. (Zoology) from Utkal University (2001). Dr. Vasudevan has published his research in numerous peer-reviewed journals such as: Scientific Reports, Amphibia-Reptilia, Biotropica, Alytes (International Journal of Batrachology), Chelonian Conservation Biology, Journal of Herpetology, and Journal of Bombay Natural History Society. He has also co-edited a book, titled, ‘Amphibians and Reptiles of Uttarakhand (field guide)’ (Wildlife Institute of India, 2010). He has helped create two online resources – one a herpetological collection from the Wildlife Institute of India Vertebrate Museum, and the other a collection of Scanning Electron Microscopy photographs of internal oral and buccal characteristics of tadpoles, and photographs of their morphological features during different development stages. Dr. Vasudevan also serves as the Honorary President of International Society for the Study and Conservation of Amphibians, Natural History Museum, Paris.

Note: Any & all errors in the brief profiles above are SynTalk’s own.

#TIAU mentionsCharles Darwin, Charles Lyell, Mahatma Gandhi, Garrett Hardin, Solomon Kullback, & Richard Leibler, among others.