Reports on Recent Meetings


26th European Meeting of Statisticians, Toruń

 

In 2003 the European Regional Committee of the Bernoulli Society had to decide when (and where) to organize the 26th European Meeting of Statisti-cians. According to the rules there was a choice between 2006 and 2009. Choosing 2009, with a gap of 4 years, was dangerous for the continuity of the tradition. On the other hand, it was clear that organizing EMS in 2006, in the year following the 25th meeting in Oslo and in the same year as traditional conferences in Vilnius and Prague, was risky. After discussion, the task had been assigned to the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Poland, and the conference had been scheduled for 2006. Poor organizers! Soon it occurred that the SPA'06 meeting (the Bernoulli Society event) would take place also in Europe, in Paris, just in the week prior to the 26th EMS. The risk had been at least doubled.

Despite all these circumstances, the 26th European Meeting of Statisticians was held in Toruń, from 24th till 28th of July 2006, and gathered approximately 280 participants, which means it was comparable in size to recent EMS conferences in Aarhus and Prague, with the noticeable exception of Oslo, where there was more than 600 participants.

Being faced with the competition of several major conferences, the organizers had no other choice than to attract participants by providing a broad and interesting scientific programme and a rich schedule of accompanying events, and to make everything available at low price.

The Scientific Program Committee (Herold Dehling - chair, Peter Buehlmann, Paolo Giudici, Jesper Moeller, Aleksander Nagajew, Zuzana Praskova, Gesine Reinert) decided to organize 3 main lectures, 6 talks by special invited speakers and 24 invited papers sessions. The invited papers sessions were grouped into clusters of related topics. For Probability Theory these were; Dependence; Extremes; Stochastic Processes; and Mathematical Physics. For Statistics they were Computational Statistics; Statistics in the Sciences; Time Series and Random Fields; and Statistical Methodology.

In the course of preparations, after the sudden death of Aleksander Nagajew (Alexander V. Nagaev, who died in 2005, at the age of 67, in a ski accident), a decision to organize the Special Invited Session in memory of A.V. Nagaev was taken. Just before the conference the Special Invited Session on History of Polish Statistics had been added.

To make the conference accessible for people at any age and from all regions of Europe, the Local Organizing Committee fixed the conference fee at an almost symbolic level, cut fees by half for students and PhD students and participants from Eastern Europe and provided reasonable accommodation at really competitive prices. This kind of policy proved to be successful with respect to young people. More than 120 participants were PhD students, from all over Europe. However, only few people came from Eastern Europe (Russia, Belarus, Ukraine) and, what was really surprising, from Scandinavia.

Peter Jagers, President of the Bernoulli Society and Marie Huskova, Chair of the European Regional Committee of BS

The conference had an extensive program of accompanying social events, including the piano concert by Waldemar Malicki, one of leading personalities in the Polish show business. Since no funds were provided by the Bernoulli Society (nor the European Union), the social program was possible due to support received from the local authorities.

The regional government of Województwo Kujawsko-Pomorskie was a co-organizer of the conference and reimbursed a substantial part of costs. The other sponsors were: the Town of Toruń; the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education; the Polish Statistical Association; and Blackwell Publishing. Obviously, the main support came from the Nicolaus Copernicus University. The conference staff was recruited among people from the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science and practically all of them were volunteers. The conference took place in the building of the Faculty of Economic Sciences and Management, whose local facilities - rooms, and computer system - served perfectly during the conference, but were also really helpful in surviving the scorching heat that existed outside. On the other hand, the tropical weather settled in Europe that summer allowed participants to enjoy the full beauty of the Old Town of Toruń every night.

Before the conference started, two events disrupted the scientific programme. Walter Philipp, a friend of many participants, who was supposed to present an invited paper in the session on Empirical Processes for Dependent Data, died on 19 July 2006, at the age of 69. Participants of the conference commemorated Walter Philipp and Sasha Nagaev by a minute of silence during the opening ceremony.

The other bad news was that Soeren Johansen, who had been appointed as the Forum Lecturer with A Survey of Cointegration Theory, was hospitalized few days before the conference and could not come to Toruń.

Apart from this bad news, the scientific programme was carried out smoothly. From the Opening Lecture, presented by Gareth Roberts on Exact Simulation and Inference for Diffusions to the Closing Lecture, delivered by Friedrich Goetze on Asymptotic Statistics and Geometry of Numbers, there was an excellent programme on a broad list of topics. Special Invited Lectures were presented by Chris Glasbey, Marie Hŭsková, Thomas Mikosch, Brian Ripley, Tomasz Rolski and Donatas Surgailis. A total of 63 papers were presented within 24 Invited Papers Sessions. There were over 120 contributed papers organized in 40 contributed paper sessions and around 40 posters.

The Special Invited Session in Memory of Aleksander Nagajew. From left to right: Yuri Davydov, Victoria Steblovskaya, Oleksandr Zaihraiev, Ildar A. Ibragimov, Vugantas Paulauskas, Tatiana Lobanowa (wife), Konstantin Nagaev (grandson), Tatiana and Sergey Aivazian, Valentin Kolchin.

During the Special Invited Session in memory of Aleksander Nagajew, held on Thursday, 27 July 2006, the speakers were Ildar A. Ibragimov, Vygantas Paulauskas, Victoria Steblovskaya and Yuri Davydov. (The list of Special Invited Papers Sessions, the detailed scientific programme of the conference and other information can be found at the conference web page www.ems2006.umk.pl ).

Herold Dehling (right) and Adam Jakubowski

 

During the Closing Ceremony, on the afternoon of Friday, July 28, 2006, Beatrice Laurent-Bonneau invited all the audience to participate in the 27th European Meeting of Statisticians, to be held in Toulouse in 2009.

Herold Dehling
Chairman of the Scientific Programme Committee
Adam Jakubowski
Chairman of the Local Organizing Committee