Friday 5 September 2014

Two Sodankyläläistä in Oulu (cont.)

After four days in the University of Oulu, the premises start to appear less and less hostile and labyrinth-like, and most of our brain capacity can thus be allocated to the modern statistical methods.

They were all gone

The topics covered during the summer school provide a valuable overview of the tools and techniques that any scientist who deals with data may need to implement someday.

The first day was mainly an introduction to the concepts of probability, likelihood and statistics, with a particular focus on the two possible paradigms (frequentist and bayesian) and their different philosophies. The second day, the lectures dealt with parametric modelling and statistical inferences, while the main topic of the third day was regression and curve fitting. Finally, measurement uncertainty analysis, Markov Chain Monte Carlo methods, time series analysis and spatial statistics were on the programme of the last two days.

The Secret Map

Every afternoon, a couple of hours were dedicated to practicals directly related to the examples considered during the lectures. These exercises were implemented in R. R is a free software programming language specially designed for statistics, which contains a great amount of useful packages. In addition, R enables to obtain nice and highly-tailorable plots.


About forty students were taking part to this summer school, with various backgrounds from biology to quantum physics. As not everybody knew one another, a "get-together" evening was organised by Exactus at some bar downtown on Wednesday evening, with a concert of the Groovesisters, a local duo (keyboard and drums). It turned out that, albeit statisticians, the organisers had set slightly too optimistic priors regarding the number of students who would join in. As only eleven of them showed up, and as about eighty free-drink tickets had been bought, let us say that we did not run short of beer...

It was slightly cloudy

After this pretty intense yet fruitful week, the homesickness has become unbearable, and soon will we be driving north to enjoy the colourful ruska and go picking lingonberries.

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