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November 2018

Topics in Information and Inference Seminar

Devavrat Shah (MIT)

November 15, 2018 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

This seminar consists of a series of lectures each followed by a period of informal discussion and social. The topics are at the nexus of information theory, inference, causality, estimation, and non-convex optimization. The lectures are intended to be tutorial in nature with the goal of learning about interesting and exciting topics rather than merely hearing about the most recent results. The topics are driven by the interests of the speakers, and with the exception of the two lectures on…

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Model-X knockoffs for controlled variable selection in high dimensional nonlinear regression

Lucas Janson (Harvard University)

November 16, 2018 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Abstract: Many contemporary large-scale applications, from genomics to advertising, involve linking a response of interest to a large set of potential explanatory variables in a nonlinear fashion, such as when the response is binary. Although this modeling problem has been extensively studied, it remains unclear how to effectively select important variables while controlling the fraction of false discoveries, even in high-dimensional logistic regression, not to mention general high-dimensional nonlinear models. To address such a practical problem, we propose a new…

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Bias Reduction and Asymptotic Efficiency in Estimation of Smooth Functionals of High-Dimensional Covariance

Vladimir Koltchinskii (Georgia Institute of Technology)

November 30, 2018 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Abstract: We discuss a recent approach to bias reduction in a problem of estimation of smooth functionals of high-dimensional parameters of statistical models. In particular, this approach has been developed in the case of estimation of functionals of covariance operator Σ : Rd d → Rd of the form f(Σ), B based on n i.i.d. observations X1, . . . , Xn sampled from the normal distribution with mean zero and covariance Σ, f : R → R being a…

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December 2018

Reducibility and Computational Lower Bounds for Some High-dimensional Statistics Problems

Guy Bresler (MIT)

December 7, 2018 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Abstract: The prototypical high-dimensional statistics problem entails finding a structured signal in noise. Many of these problems exhibit an intriguing phenomenon: the amount of data needed by all known computationally efficient algorithms far exceeds what is needed for inefficient algorithms that search over all possible structures. A line of work initiated by Berthet and Rigollet in 2013 has aimed to explain these gaps by reducing from conjecturally hard problems in computer science. However, the delicate nature of average-case reductions has…

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Large girth approximate Steiner triple systems

Lutz Warnke (Georgia Institute of Technology)

December 14, 2018 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Abstract: In 1973 Erdos asked whether there are n-vertex partial Steiner triple systems with arbitrary high girth and quadratically many triples. (Here girth is defined as the smallest integer g \ge 4 for which some g-element vertex-set contains at least g-2 triples.) We answer this question, by showing existence of approximate Steiner triple systems with arbitrary high girth. More concretely, for any fixed \ell \ge 4 we show that a natural constrained random process typically produces a partial Steiner triple…

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January 2019

Laboratory for Information & Decision Systems (LIDS) Student Conference

January 31 - February 1

The annual LIDS Student Conference is a student-organized, student-run event that provides an opportunity for graduate students to present their research to peers as well as to the community at large.

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February 2019

Optimization of the Sherrington-Kirkpatrick Hamiltonian

Andrea Montanari (Stanford University)

February 1 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Andrea Montanari Professor, Department of Electrical Engineering, Department of Statistics Stanford University This lecture is in conjunction with the LIDS Student Conference. Abstract: Let A be n × n symmetric random matrix with independent and identically distributed Gaussian entries above the diagonal. We consider the problem of maximizing xT Ax over binary vectors with ±1 entries. In the language of statistical physics, this amounts to finding the ground state of the Sherrington-Kirkpatrick model of spin glasses. The asymptotic value of this…

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Data Science and Big Data Analytics: Making Data-Driven Decisions

February 4 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

Developed by 11 MIT faculty members at IDSS, this seven-week course is specially designed for data scientists, business analysts, engineers and technical managers looking to learn strategies to harness data. Offered by MIT xPRO. Course begins Feb 4, 2019.

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Medical Image Imputation

Polina Golland (MIT CSAIL)

February 8 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Abstract: We present an algorithm for creating high resolution anatomically plausible images that are consistent with acquired clinical brain MRI scans with large inter-slice spacing. Although large databases of clinical images contain a wealth of information, medical acquisition constraints result in sparse scans that miss much of the anatomy. These characteristics often render computational analysis impractical as standard processing algorithms tend to fail when applied to such images. Our goal is to enable application of existing algorithms that were originally…

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TAP free energy, spin glasses, and variational inference

Zhou Fan (Yale University)

February 15 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Abstract: We consider the Sherrington-Kirkpatrick model of spin glasses with ferromagnetically biased couplings. For a specific choice of the couplings mean, the resulting Gibbs measure is equivalent to the Bayesian posterior for a high-dimensional estimation problem known as "Z2 synchronization". Statistical physics suggests to compute the expectation with respect to this Gibbs measure (the posterior mean in the synchronization problem), by minimizing the so-called Thouless-Anderson-Palmer (TAP) free energy, instead of the mean field (MF) free energy. We prove that this identification…

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