Turning statisticians into BFF-ers: Two conferences in Toronto

June 23, 2022 by Radu Craiu

The month of May has been a happening one for the Department of Statistical Sciences (DSS) at the University of Toronto. We have started strong by hosting in our new space the 7th Bayesian, Frequentist and Fiducial conference on May 2-4, 2022. The event had been originally scheduled to take place in May 2020 and was delayed because of the COVID pandemic. 

The BFF series has traditionally focused on the foundations of statistics, placing emphasis on the three paradigms that have historically been at the center of our discipline. As stated on the BFF official website, "The Bayesian, Fiducial, and Frequentist (BFF) community began in 2014 as a means to facilitate scientific exchange among statisticians and scholars in related fields that develop new methodologies linked to the foundational principles of statistical inference. The community encourages and promotes research activities to bridge foundations for statistical inferences, to facilitate objective and replicable scientific learning, and to develop analytic and computing methodologies for data analysis."

This year’s edition has kept with tradition but has also added computational and philosophical considerations into the mix.  Sessions spanned a large swath of topics that included foundational and philosophical debates, nonstandard analysis for advancing BFF, methods to address the reproducibility crisis, information fusion, likelihood-free computation and inference, and methods for large and complex data. The full schedule is available at bit.ly/BFF7Conference.

This year’s BFF has been dedicated to the memory of Donald S. Fraser and the program included a session, organized by Nancy Reid, where the speakers were Don’s former students, Mylène Bédard and Ana-Maria Staicu, as well as Todd Kuffner who presented an inspired review of Don’s research interests and their evolution in time. 

The conference has been organized in a hybrid format, and the organizers were relieved to see that 40 out of 130 participants came to Toronto in person. This injected the proceedings with a great deal of energy, leading to vigorous question periods and productive coffee break discussions. 

BFF7 has been immediately followed on May 5th by "Statistics at Its Best’’, a one-day conference organized by Radu Craiu and Grace Yi in honour of Nancy Reid’s 70th birthday.  The speakers in the latter event included Alessandra Brazzale, Alicia Carriquiry, Anthony Davison, Christian Genest, Ed George, Rob Kass, Andrew McCormack, Mary Thompson, and Jim Zidek. The conference banquet was attended by over 80 people and featured speeches from Jim Berger, Radu Craiu, Charmaine Dean, Don Estep (in absentia), Donelle and Ailie Fraser, Ed George, Peter McCullagh, James Stafford, Lisa Strug, Mary Thompson (in absentia), and Grace Yi.

Both events have been organized in collaboration with Gravity Pull and funded in part by DSS and CANSSI. They were among this year’s scientific activities celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Statistical Society of Canada

Please have a look at some photos of this year’s BFF and “Statistics at Its Best”.