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New ERA-Chair enhances University’s research activities

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Published on Monday, 27 January 2020

On 23 January, Prof. Yannick Baraud gave his inaugural lecture as new holder of the ERA Chair in Mathematical Statistics and Data Science – SanDAL. The prestigious grant of 2.5 million euros from the European Commission supports the University until 2023 in creating a high-level research group in mathematical statistics and data science.

The chair helps position Luxembourg as a key player in mathematics research and complements in the University’s research activities. Jean-Marc Schlenker, Dean of the Faculty of Science, Technology and Medicine, states: „Within a few years only, we have succeeded in building an internationally renowned department in the fields of probability theory, geometry, number theory and mathematical physics. However, with the growing importance of data science in all sectors of the economy and especially in logistics, healthcare, ICT, manufacturing and finance, Luxembourg registers a high demand for skilled scientists, engineers and researchers. This outstanding award will enable us to meet the job market’s needs.”

During his inaugural lecture “On the evolution of Data Science,” Prof. Yannick Baraud explained that a science with data is not necessarily data science. “Data science became popular with the rising interest in phenomena that could not be described with equations. Simply put, data science deals with missing information and has become an alternative way for making predictions – forecasting the weather, for example.” He added: “In the statistical approach, on which data science is based, equations are replaced by what is called a statistical model. Most of the statistical procedures in data science are based on the crucial assumption that the model is exact and perfectly describes reality. When this is not the case, many procedures perform poorly. In my research, I prefer to think that a statistical model is only approximate, and my aim is to design a statistical procedure that still performs well despite small deviations between the model and truth. This property is called robustness.

The ERA Chair research activities will focus on two areas: “High-dimensional data analysis” and “new mathematical tools for contemporary statistics” to develop new and more sophisticated statistical methods. In addition, new teaching programmes at Master and PhD levels will be elaborated to provide future students with the necessary skills in mathematical statistics and data science to understand, develop and apply new tools in various fields.

About Yannick Baraud

Yannick Baraud obtained his PhD in Mathematics from the University Paris-Sud Orsay in 1998. He held a position of CNRS (French National Center for Scientific Research) researcher at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris and was nominated Professor at the University of Nice in 2003. In 2012, he was appointed head of the Laboratory of Mathematics Jean Alexandre Dieudonné. He is a specialist of Mathematical Statistics and has a special interest in model selection and robust estimation. Prof. Baraud joined the University of Luxembourg in August 2019 as ERA-Chair holder of SanDAL.

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