Events Calendar

Talk by Dr. Xiao-Li Meng (DSAS colloquium)

Wednesday, October 16, 2019
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Western Interdisciplinary Research Building (WIRB)
Room: 1170


Building Deep Statistical Thinking for Data Science 2020:

Privacy Protected Census, Gerrymandering, and Election


The year 2020 will be a busy one for statisticians and more generally data scientists.  The US Census Bureau has announced that the data from the 2020 Census will be released under differential privacy (DP) protection, which in layperson’s terms means adding some noises to the data.  While few would argue against protecting data privacy, many researchers, especially from the social sciences, are concerned whether the right trade-offs between data privacy and data utility are being made. The DP protection also has direct impact on redistricting, an issue that is already complicated enough with accurate counts, due to the need of guarding against excessive gerrymandering.  The central statistical problem there is a rather unique one:  how to determine whether a realization is an outlier with respect to a null distribution, when that null distribution itself cannot be fully determined?  The 2020 US election will be another highly watched event, with many groups already busy making predictions. Will the lessons from predicting the 2016 US election be learned, or the failure be repeated?  This talk invites the audience on a journey of deep statistical thinking prompted by these questions, regardless whether they have any interest in the US Census or politics.

Short Bio:
Xiao-Li Meng, the Whipple V. N. Jones Professor of Statistics, and the Founding Editor-in-Chief of Harvard Data Science Review, is known for his depth and breadth of research, innovation and passion in pedagogy, vision and effectiveness in administration, and engaging and entertaining style as a speaker and writer. Meng is the recipient of numerous awards and honors for his over 150 publications in areas of theory, methodology, pedagogy, and professional development. He has delivered over 400 research presentations and public speeches and is the author of “The XL-Files," a column in the Institute of Mathematical Statistics Bulletin. Meng received his BS in mathematics from Fudan University in 1982 and his PhD in statistics from Harvard in 1990. He was on the faculty of the University of Chicago from 1991 to 2001 before returning to Harvard, where he served as the Chair of the Department of Statistics (2004-2012) and the Dean of Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (2012-2017).

Darrell McNeil
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