Lecture - Prof Peter McCullagh - Empirical phenomena and universal laws
06/04/2016 17:00 to 06/04/2016 19:00 (Europe/Luxembourg)
Prof Peter McCullagh is Professor at the Department of Statistics of the University of Chicago and currently visiting the Oxford University as Eastman Professor.
He is a Fellow of the Royal Society and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was this year’s Fisher Memorial Lecturer and has been working in a number of fields, including generalised linear models and statistical inference.
In 1943 Fisher, together with Corbet and Williams, published a study on the relation between the number of species and the number of specimens in random samples.
This very short paper has since been recognized as one of the most influential papers on species diversity in 20th century ecology.
It was a combination of empirical work backed up by a simple theoretical argument pointing to the log-series distribution for species diversity in random samples. Fisher’s work is closely related to more recent mathematical developments on random partitions, such as the Ewens partition and the chinese restaurant process.
In this talk, I will explain how Fisher’s log-series distribution is a consequence of three mathematical axioms: exchangeability, consistency and self-similarity.
If time permits, I will discuss the implications for empirical studies of a similar sort, including Fairfield-Smith’s work on the variance of spatial averages.