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Seminar Series: Spring 2011
The seminar series will usually take place on Fridays in a Business Building room, but the exact time and location could be different due to a variety of factors including room availability in the Business Building. For actual direction to the Business Building, please see campus map. For additional information contact Dr. Kefeng Xu, (210) 458-5388.

Thursday, Jan. 13th 7:00-8:00 pm BB 4.02.10 Executive Conference Room

  • Presenter: MILO SCHIELD, professor of in Business Administration at Augsburg College.

  • Presentation Title: Statistical Literacy: Confounding

  • Abstract: Most studies are observational studies. This is certainly true in the social sciences: sociology, social work, economics, and political science. It is generally true in the health sciences. Confounding is a major problem in observational studies. This talk illustrates various ways to talk about--and teach--the influence of confounding on totals, on ratios, and on statistical significance.

Thursday, Feb. 3rd, 2011, 2-3:30pm (Executive Conference Room BB 4.02.10)

  • Presenter: Douglas M Hawkins, Professor, School of Statistics, University of Minnesota

  • Presentation Title: Statistical Process Control and the Problem of Unknown Parameters

  • Abstract: Until recently, statistical process control (SPC) has been reminiscent of statistics pre-Student. Parameter estimates would be plugged in where exact parameters were required, and the resulting tools used as if these estimates were the true parameters. It is now appreciated that estimated parameters cause much more severe distortion in SPC tools than in classical statistics. Some researchers are studying the impact that parameter estimation has on existing SPC tools. Others, paralleling Student, are devising new tools that correctly incorporate estimated parameters. Two promising approaches are "self-starting" methods using the process data simultaneously for control and parameter estimation, and "change-point" methods that differ from their long-standing econometric cousins in being applied dynamically. Uni- and multivariate formulations of these approaches are discussed.


Tuesday, Feb. 22nd, 2011, 6:30 (refreshment), 7:00 - 8:00pm (colloquium) (University Room, BB 2.06.04), joint seminar with ASA-San Antonio Chapter

  • Presenter: Xiao-Li Meng, Chair and Professor of Department of Statistics, Harvard University

  • Presentation Title: Trivial Mathematics but Deep Statistics: Simpson's Paradox and Its Impact on Your Life

  • Abstract: Few paradoxes have impacted everyday life more than Simpson's Paradox has. Yet paradoxically, Simpson's paradox is not even a paradox in the mathematical sense. Simple arithmetic can easily show that it is possible for a surgeon to have the highest overall success rate, and yet have the lowest success rates for each type of surgeries he performed. The fact that you may feel this phenomenon counterintuitive is precisely the reason that the Simpson's paradox has led to many erroneous conclusions and decisions that affect people's life, particularly those from social and medical studies, where comparisons using aggregated data are routinely performed. This talk demonstrates the danger of Simpson's paradox via a number of real-life examples, from the famous Berkeley sex bias case to measuring disparity in mental health service based on the recently released National Latino and Asian American Study (NLAAS),  and from batting averages and to a recent debate on unemployment rates (Wall Street Journal, December 2, 2009). No statistical background is required to understand this talk, but only some common sense and a desire to think deeply beyond formulas.

    (This is also G-rated talk because it is a "gadgeted" seminar. Never heard of it? Well, this is your chance)

Friday, March 25, 2011, 10:00 - 11:00am (colloquium), BB 3.02.16 (Stat Lab)

  • Presenter: Angel Díaz Matalobos, PhD, Professor of Operations and Director of PhD Program, Instituto de Empresa Business School, María de Molina 12 bajo, Madrid 28006, Spain

  • Presentation Title: Is High Unemployment Becoming Structural in the West? The Limits of Growth, Revisited - Through the Lens of Supply Chain Management

  • Abstract: Almost 40 years ago, The Limits of Growth, a study using Jay Forrester techniques addressed a question that may be now coming of age: can we keep growing indefinitely? In this presentation, we look at the forces that may be creating a situation of chronic unemployment and growth restrictions in the West (taken broadly as the USA, Canada, Western Europe and Japan): systematic increases in productivity that displace labor to a fourth sector of the economy, the knowledge economy, where a majority of the workers lacking higher qualifications are excluded; offshoring production and services to countries with lower labor costs; and mergers and acquisitions that displace jobs to fragile SME. Exacerbated by an aging population, particularly in Europe and Japan; by limitations to natural resources and environmental issues; and by the understandable aspirations of emerging countries to raise their consumption, this is becoming an acute issue that requires the attention of the academic community. We look, and provide some evidence, into the phenomenon of commoditization, i.e. aging products and services forced to compete on price, and which production is increasingly the domain of developing countries ("the East"). In the second part of the presentation we look for potential answers to these issues, summarized in three possible strategies: i) Displacing products to the left of their life cycle, illustrated by Ford and Cemex adopting servitization, the bundling of mature products with associated services; ii) Rethinking offshoring, illustrated with the contrary cases of Arinso, the Mexican maquiladoras, Airbus and Ford Almussafes; and iii) Improving processes for efficiency gains, illustrated with cases Aravind (process improvement in Healthcare), UN (adapting logistic civilian and military practices for humanitarian relief operations), and CHEP (redesign of the European network of a pallet pooling service company). In conclusion, we argue that Academia can and must provide guiding directions for the solution of these issues, helping thus to close the reported gap between rigorous and relevant research.


Friday, April 29, 2011, 2:00-3:00pm, Business Building Executive Conference Room (BB4.02.10)

  • Presenter: Dr. Jerome Keating, Professor, Department of Management Science & Statistics College of Business University of Texas at San Antonio

  • Presentation Title: Stein's Initial Estimator of a Multivariate Normal Mean

  • Abstract: In the context of the multivariate normal distribution, Charles Stein (1956) presented a proof that in three or higher dimensions, the estimator of the population mean vector, based on components that are individually unbiased for corresponding components of the population mean vector, is not best in the sense of mean squared error. Stein presents an alternative estimator, which has uniformly smaller mean squared error than the vector whose components are unbiased estimators of corresponding components of the population mean vector. Within Stein's original paper, however, he suggests another estimator which he says did not shrink enough. We examine this initial estimator which we think may provide insight into how Professor Stein discovered the wonderful phenomenon known as "Stein's phenomenon."

    Key words: Stein estimation, Hyperbolic geometry, Mean Squared Error



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