JSM, the Joint Statistical Meetings, the largest gathering of statisticians held in North America, took place this year from August 8 to 13, 2015, in Seattle WA. Attended by more than 6,000 people, it was held jointly with the American Statistical Association, International Biometric Society (ENAR and WNAR), Institute of Mathematical Statistics, Statistical Society of Canada, International Chinese Statistical Association, International Indian Statistical Association, Korean International Statistical Society, International Society for Bayesian Analysis, Royal Statistical Society, and International Statistical Institute.
Meeting activities included oral presentations, panel sessions, poster presentations, professional development courses, an exhibit hall, the Career Placement Service, society and section business meetings, committee meetings, social activities and networking opportunities. Just in case you missed them the first time around, here’s a round-up of some of the top stories coming out of the 2015 meetings.
1. Big Data Analytical Advances Enhancing Exploration of Universe
Statisticians have combined state-of-the-art analytical techniques from the academic and business worlds to tackle big data challenges confronting astrophysicists and astronomers. These technical advances — called automatic explorative analysis of data — have the potential of greatly aiding these scientists as they seek to understand our universe, as well as researchers who work with big data in other fields.
2. Statistical Technique Helps Researchers Understand Tumor Makeup, Personalize Cancer Treatments
A new statistical method for analyzing next-generation sequencing data helps researchers study the genome of various organisms and could help bring about personalized cancer treatments. Bayesian feature allocation models were presented at the 2015 Joint Statistical Meetings. Successful development of personalized cancer treatments will be driven by the accurate description of the genetic composition of a patient’s cancerous tumor.
3. Improving Global Security through Real-time Analysis of Complex Risks
Statistical models are playing an increasingly important role in risk analysis and helping the United States and other countries around the globe mitigate the effects of natural and man-made disasters. While statistical models can provide insight into risks, the field is experiencing a sea change brought on by new advances in technology and data collection, including big data and the Internet of Things (IoT).
4. Statisticians Use Social Media to Track Foodborne Illness Outbreaks, Improve Disaster Response
The growing popularity and use of social media around the world is presenting new opportunities for statisticians to glean insightful information from the infinite stream of posts, tweets and other online communications that will help improve public safety. Two such examples — one that enhances systems to track foodborne illness outbreaks and another designed to improve disaster-response activities — were presented at JSM 2015.
5. Quantitative Analysis of Men’s and Women’s Tennis Performance finds Differences Not Attributable to Gender
Quantitative analysis of the performance of men and women professional tennis players over the past five completed seasons shows for the first time that evidence of inconsistency in women’s play is likely attributable to match format (e.g., best of three or five sets), not gender, Stephanie Kovalchik revealed at a session focused on analytics of women’s sports at the 2015 Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM 2015) in Seattle.
6. Statistical Software Helps Unlock Mysteries of Human Microbiome
Advances in statistics are helping unlock mysteries of the human microbiome — the vast collection of microorganisms living in and on the bodies of humans. It is important to determine not only the types of microbes present in a given sample, but also the genetic makeup of each strain. This presents a considerable big data challenge, requiring advances in statistical methodology and new software for accurate analysis of metagenomics data.
7. Statistical Model Predicts Play-calling of NFL Teams with High Accuracy
Researchers have built a statistical model that predicts the play-calling tendency of NFL teams with high accuracy. Their model, which correctly called run and pass plays at a high rate when tested using play-by-play data from actual NFL games, could be used by casual fans and even NFL defensive coordinators during real games to predict their opponent’s next play.
8. Statistical Software Helps Police ID Crime Series, Speed Apprehension of Perpetrators
A statistical model — now a software tool that local police can use to identify a series of related crimes and nab a suspect — was unveiled at the 2015 Joint Statistical Meetings during a session focused on improving analysis of defense systems using statistical methods. The goal of the crime linkage model is to help analysts more quickly and easily sift through massive amounts of crime data to accurately discover patterns.
9. Personalized Medicine: Statisticians Develop Two-cycle Dose-finding Method for Cancer Treatments
A new technique developed by statisticians is helping doctors optimize the dose of a new cancer treatment patients receive in phase I/ II clinical trials. The “Optimal Two-Cycle Dose-Finding Design” is the first to deal with the problem of optimizing each patient’s dose levels in two cycles. Extensive computer simulations have shown the two-cycle design often is 30 to 35 percent better than conventional methods in choosing the best dose.
10. U.S. Population Projected to Grow 40% over Next 85 Years
The world’s population will increase from today’s 7.3 billion people to 9.7 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion at century’s end, John R. Wilmoth, the director of the United Nations (UN) Population Division, told a session focused on demographic forecasting at the 2015 Joint Statistical Meetings. The UN projection suggests there will not be an end to world population growth this century unless there are unprecedented fertility declines…