Igor Pruenster President of International Society for Bayesian Analysis
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Igor Pruenster President of International Society for Bayesian Analysis

PROFESSOR OF STATISTICS AT BOCCONI UNIVERSITY, HE WILL BE LEADING THE SOCIETY INTO ITS 30TH ANNIVERSARY, WITH A SPECIAL FOCUS ON EARLY CAREER SUPPORT AND THE ROLE OF STATISTICS IN THE DIGITAL DATA REVOLUTION

Founded in 1992, the International Society for Bayesian Analysis (ISBA) approaches its 30th anniversary. Over these years, ISBA has promoted the development and application of Bayesian statistics. This approach to modeling and prediction is based on the celebrated theorem by Thomas Bayes, where available knowledge about the parameters in a probabilistic model is updated with the information contained in the data. Among its activities, ISBA organizes several series of conferences and publishes one of the leading statistics journals, Bayesian Analysis, which is completely open access.
 
Igor Pruenster, Professor of Statistics at Bocconi University and Director of the Bocconi Institute for Data Science and Analytics, became president of ISBA during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, which has heavily impacted academic life. The 2021 ISBA World Meeting, originally to be held in Kunming (China) in 2020, was no exception: it was first postponed to 2021 and then turned into a virtual meeting. This first online edition, held from June 28 to July 2, was a great success, crossing the threshold of two thousand participants for the first time. The virtual format, generously supported by the US National Science Foundation, made the 2021 ISBA World Meeting even more inclusive, with participants from more than 60 countries. The conference program was designed to highlight contributions from early career researchers, with online videos, live interactions and numerous awards.
 
Junior support has been a common thread within ISBA ever since and will be reinforced under Pruenster’s presidency. “With the steadily increasing competition for grants, positions and resources”, he explains, “ISBA must support its best early career researchers, especially during difficult times. In this direction, j-ISBA, our junior section, has established a new set of awards named after two prominent Bayesians and role models for young generations: the Blackwell-Rosenbluth awards. Moreover, to increase the visibility of the finalists of the prestigious Savage awards - bestowed each year to the two best doctoral dissertations in Bayesian econometrics and statistics - all of them are now invited to present their work at ISBA world meetings. On a more general level, we have recently set up an ad hoc committee tasked with reshaping existing initiatives and proposing new awards for early career researchers. The committee, chaired by former Bocconi PhD student Marta Catalano, will ensure that all early career stages (PhD student, Postdoc, Junior Faculty) are adequately covered.”
 
“The digital revolution has kicked off an exciting period for science. It is a pleasure to see statistics playing a pivotal role: essentially any modern scientific question nowadays is tackled with statistical methodology. As seen in the COVID-19 pandemics, predictions are effective but can sometimes be unreliable. Therefore, quantifying the uncertainty of the model output is of paramount importance before taking life-changing decisions. Bayesian statistics is therefore immediately part of the equation since, thanks to its solid probabilistic foundations, it provides the most principled and rigorous uncertainty quantification. The need for accuracy with respect to black-box methods comes at a computational cost that is worth paying. ISBA’s mission is to nurture new generations of Bayesian statisticians to take the lead in these endeavors.”
 
 
Find out more
 
D. Spiegelhalter and K. Rice (2009). Bayesian Statistics. Scholarpedia 4, 5230.
 
K. Cowles, R. Kass and T. O’Hagan. What is Bayesian Analysis?
 
B. de Finetti (1974). Bayesianism: Its Unifying Role for Both the Foundations and Applications of Statistics. International Statistical Review 42, 117-130.
 

by Sirio Legramanti
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