Statistics Seminar – Fall 2018

Schedule for Fall 2018

Seminars are on Mondays
Time: 4:10pm – 5:00pm
Location: Room 903, 1255 Amsterdam Avenue

Tea and Coffee will be served before the seminar at 3:30 PM, 10th Floor Lounge SSW

Cheese and Wine reception will follow the seminar at 5:10 PM in the 10th Floor Lounge SSW

For an archive of past seminars, please click here.


Haipeng Xing (SUNY)

“Predictive effect of economic and market variations on structural breaks in the credit market”

The financial crisis of 2007-2008 has caused severe economic and political consequences over the world. An interesting question from this crisis is whether or to what extent such sharp changes or structural breaks in the market can be explained by economic and market fundamentals. To address this issue, we consider a model that extracts the information of market structural breaks from firms’ credit rating records, and connects probabilities of market structural breaks to observed and latent economic variables. We also discuss the issue of selecting significant variables when the number of economic covariates is large. We then analyze market structural breaks that involve U.S. firms’ credit rating records and historical data of economic and market fundamentals from 1986 to 2015. We find that the probabilities of structural breaks are positively correlated with changes of S\&P500 returns and volatilities and changes of inflation, and negatively correlated with changes of corporate bond yield. The significance of other variables depends on the inclusion of latent variables in the study or not.


4:00-5:15 in Uris 142

Ed Kaplan (Yale)

Title: Approximating the First-Come, First-Served Stochastic Matching Model with Ohm’s Law

Abstract: The first-come, first-served (FCFS) stochastic matching model, where each server in an infinite sequence is matched to the first eligible customer from a second infinite sequence, developed from queueing problems addressed by Kaplan (1984) in the context of public housing assignments. The goal of this model is to determine the matching rates between eligible customer types and server types, that is, the fraction of all matches that occur between type-i customers and type-j servers. This model was solved in a beautiful paper by Adan and Weiss, but the resulting equation for the matching rates is quite complicated, involving the sum of permutation-specific terms over all permutations of the server types. Here, we develop an approximation for the matching rates based on Ohm’s Law that in some cases reduces to exact results, and via analytical, numerical, and simulation examples is shown to be highly accurate. As our approximation only requires solving a system of linear equations, it provides an accurate and tractable alternative to the exact solution.

(This is joint work with Mohammad M. Fazel-Zarandi, MIT Sloan School of Management)

There will be a refreshment reception afterward in Uris deli’s Hepburn Lounge on the 1st floor of the building.


Andrew Nobel (UNC)

“Variational Analysis of Empirical Risk Minimization”

This talk presents a variational framework for the asymptotic analysis of empirical risk minimization in general settings. In its most general form the framework concerns a two-stage inference procedure. In the first stage of the procedure, an average loss criterion is used to fit the trajectory of an observed dynamical system with a trajectory of a reference dynamical system. In the second stage of the procedure, a parameter estimate is obtained from the optimal trajectory of the reference system. I will show that the empirical risk of the best fit trajectory converges almost surely to a constant that can be expressed in variational form as the minimal expected loss over dynamically invariant couplings (joinings) of the observed and reference systems. Moreover, the family of joinings minimizing the expected loss fully characterizes the asymptotic behavior of the estimated parameters. I will illustrate the variational framework through an application to the well-studied problem of maximum likelihood estimation, and the analysis of system identification from quantized trajectories subject to noise, a problem in which the models themselves exhibit dynamical behavior across time. As time permits, I will give an overview of new results in a more Bayesian setting, specifically Gibbs posterior estimation of Gibbs distributions.


Cheng Yong Tang (Temple)


Hongning Wang (University of Virginia)



Xin Tong (USC Marshall)


Roy Han (Rutgers)


Mark Brown (Columbia)

11/5/18 Academic Holiday – no seminar
Howell Tong (LSE)

Farzad Sabzikar (ISU)


David Blei (Columbia)


Simon Tavare (Columbia)