Workshop in Applied Statistics


Wednesday, September 30, 2020, 12:00pm to 1:30pm


Zoom - see below

You can attend this workshop via this link:

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Today's presenter

Michael Baiocchi (Stanford University), "When black box algorithms are (not) appropriate: a principled prediction-problem ontology"


In the 1980s a new, extraordinarily productive way of reasoning about algorithms emerged. Though this type of reasoning has come to dominate areas of data science, it has been under-discussed and its impact under-appreciated. For example, it is the primary way we reason about "black box'' algorithms. In this talk we discuss its current use (i.e., as "the common task framework'') and its limitations; we find a large class of prediction-problems are inappropriate for this type of reasoning. Further, we find the common task framework does not provide a foundation for the deployment of an algorithm in a real world situation. Building off of its core features, we identify a class of problems where this new form of reasoning can be used in deployment. We purposefully develop a novel framework so both technical and non-technical people can discuss and identify key features of their prediction problem and whether or not it is suitable for this new kind of reasoning.

The Applied Statistics Workshop (Gov 3009) is a forum for graduate students, faculty, and visiting scholars to present and discuss methodological or empirical work in progress in an interdisciplinary setting. The workshop features a tour of Harvard's statistical innovations and applications with weekly stops in different fields and disciplines and includes occasional presentations by invited speakers. It is co-hosted by Harvard University's Department of Government and Institute for Quantitative Social Science (IQSS).

For more information, visit the Applied Statistics website.