Oct 2, 2011

President’s Welcome

IMS President, Ruth Williams, writes this introductory message, in which she informs readers about some of the ongoing and upcoming activities of the IMS, and encourages your participation.

Our discipline of probability and statistics is rapidly growing in diverse directions. Despite the wonders of modern communication, it can sometimes be difficult for members with common interests to connect with one another. The IMS Groups Program was started a few years ago to provide a mechanism for scholars with a common interest to organize and communicate as a smaller group. These “special interest groups” are intended to be largely self-organizing with a simple administrative framework provided by the IMS. The existence of this program seems not to be so well known and yet I believe it can provide a good mechanism for our members to become more connected with one another and with the IMS. I am pleased to report that two new special interest groups have recently been started. A group on the topic of Probability and Statistics in Finance was recently initiated by Xin Guo, Tze Leung Lai and Philip Protter. This group got off to a rapid start. It has organized its first conference: a one-day meeting held at Columbia University in June (see the report here or in the print Bulletin (October/November 2011, p5). The group is planning another meeting for next summer in the California Bay Area. A second new group is in the works around the growing topic of Stochastics and Biology. The aim of this group is to provide a common point of contact for researchers from different areas interested in stochastic models in biology. The contact for this group is Lea Popovic. More details about these and other groups, and on how to start an IMS group of your own, can be found at http://imstat.org/groups/.

IMS Journals
One of the most important activities of the IMS is the publication of its journals. Our journals are well-known for their high quality and reasonable cost. These are important characteristics, especially in these times of tight library budgets. You can all contribute to maintaining the excellence of our journals by submitting your best work to them and by volunteering your time and expertise to serve as referees (or editors) when asked. You can further help with dissemination of our journals by ensuring that your library maintains its subscription or suggesting that they subscribe if they do not already do so—there are various subscription plans available to institutions, including electronic-only access and discounted prices for a subscription to a bundle of five IMS journals (the four Annals and Statistical Science) plus three journals (Bernoulli, Annales de l’Institut Henri Poincaré B and the Brazilian Journal of Probability and Statistics) that are published by the IMS for other non-profit societies in probability and statistics.

Our (purely) electronic journals provide open access in the true sense that access is free to anyone with a web browser. These journals have low overhead, but most incur some costs associated with providing servers and an electronic system for the submission, refereeing, publication and indexing of articles. Members with available resources can help support these activities by paying voluntary page charges for their articles published in our electronic journals or by donating to the IMS Open Access Fund.

Meetings
Another key IMS activity is the sponsorship and co-sponsorship of a broad range of scientific conferences related to statistics and probability. I will just mention a couple of these here (you can see the full spectrum on our website at http://imstat.org/meetings/2011.htm, and in the Bulletin‘s Calendar). Every four years, the IMS holds its annual meeting as part of the quadrennial World Congress in Probability and Statistics, jointly sponsored by the IMS and the Bernoulli Society. Next year, the 8th World Congress will be held July 9–14 in Istanbul, Turkey. The Congress has grown over the years and is now a major international event in probability and statistics. Abstract submission recently opened for this meeting. Details on how to submit an abstract and other information can be found at http://www.worldcong2012.org/

I would like to mention two IMS initiatives available to help some members attend this meeting. The IMS Laha Awards are available to assist members who are students or recent PhD recipients with the cost of travel to present a paper at this meeting. The IMS childcare initiative provides some support to help encourage those IMS members who have childcare responsibilities to attend the meeting. There is also an application in process to a US funding agency to help support junior researchers from US institutions to attend the Congress. Information will be posted on the Congress website and in the Bulletin about this possibility in the coming months. Later in July 2012, immediately prior to the Joint Statistical Meetings, the 14th meeting of New Researchers in Statistics and Probability, organized by the IMS New Researchers Committee, will be held at the University of California, San Diego (see the meeting website for information on how to apply). The IMS Tweedie New Researcher Award will be presented at this meeting; nominations for this close December 1, 2011.

Looking ahead
Looking further into the future, in 2013, a number of celebrations will converge: 2013 will be the International Year of Statistics (IYStat), it has been designated as the year to highlight the Mathematics of Planet Earth (MPE13), and it is the 300th Anniversary of the publication of Ars Conjectandi written by Jacob Bernoulli. IMS will be organizing various activities associated with these celebrations, some of which will be in collaboration with other statistics and probability organizations.

Scientific Legacy
Last year the IMS celebrated its 75th anniversary. Regrettably, we have now seen the passing of many of the great contributors to the early years of our society. In an effort to create a lasting resource highlighting our rich history, the IMS Council has created the new position of Scientific Legacy Editor, with Paul Shaman being appointed as the first such editor. Paul will be involved in developing webpages that feature the many contributions made to probability and statistics (and their applications) by our former members. It is anticipated that this will be a valuable resource for increasing the profile to the world at large, as well as to our members, of our scientific heritage.

There are other activities initiated in the last year that I could mention, such as the recent changes to the online version of the Bulletin including the introduction of the open forum, and the program of short course and short meetings that my immediate predecessor, Peter Hall, is developing and which you will hear more about soon. However, as my PhD advisor, Kai Lai Chung, liked to say (following Shakespeare), “Time must have a stop,” and it is time for me to conclude this introductory piece.

In closing, I would like to heartily thank all of our members who contribute to the many and varied activities of the IMS. The success of the IMS as a professional society depends critically on the extensive volunteer efforts of our members. I would appreciate hearing your comments and thoughts on IMS activities and welcome ideas on how to make the IMS even better: email me at president@imstat.org. ■

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