Feb 16, 2012

ISOSS meeting, new President

The 11th biennial Islamic Countries Conference on Statistical Sciences (ICCS-11) has elected Professor Ali S. Hadi of The American University of Cairo (AUC), Egypt as the new President of the Islamic Counties Society of Statistical Sciences (ISOSS). He became the President-elect in December 2009. He takes over the role of President from Professor Shahjahan Khan, University of Southern Queensland, Australia who held the position from 2005 to 2011. Ali is currently a Distinguished University Professor and a former Vice Provost at AUC. He was also a former Head of the Department of Social Statistics at Cornell University, USA, where he is currently a Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow and Professor Emeritus.

The ICCS conference was held at the University of Management and Technology (UMT), Lahore, Pakistan, from 19–22 December, 2011. The conference attracted delegates from Australia, Africa, South East Asia, Middle East, Europe, and North America. Unfortunately, due to the current situation in Pakistan many of our colleagues from the West who registered for the conference could not participate in it. The Higher Education Commission of Pakistan provided free accommodation for a large number of international and out of city participants in its newly built Guest House in Gulberg III, Lahore, Pakistan.

The theme of the conference was “Statistics for Strategies of Development.” The speakers in the Opening Session discussed different aspects of the application of statistics in the modern world. In his talk, the Rector of the UMT, Professor Hassan Sohaib Murad, focussed on the dominant role of statistics in business and industry. He also emphasized the need of statistics for business executives and the inclusion of courses on quantitative methods at the undergraduate level. The founding President of ISOSS and Rector of National College of Business Administration and Economics (NCBA&E), Professor Munir Ahmed, gave a brief genesis of ISOSS and explained the need for unity among scientists to enhance the harmonious development of knowledge for the benefit of humanity. Professor Ali Hadi expressed appreciation towards the ISOSS team in Lahore for their excellent job organising an international conference at very short notice. In his speech, Professor Shahjahan Khan, outgoing President of ISOSS explained the stages of development of statistics and its wide range of applications in almost all areas of research, modern science, business and every walk of life. He also thanked everyone who helped build ISOSS House in Lahore, and those who organised four international conferences during his term. The Vice-President of ISOSS, Professor Mohammad Hanif Mian, appreciated support from everyone, especially the sponsors, UMT and NCBA&E, and participants from home and abroad.

The inaugural keynote address was presented by Ali Hadi. He entertained the audience through showing graphs to explain relationships among a large number of variables on the parallel coordinate while speaking on “Multi-Class Data Exploration Using Space Transformed Visualization Plots.” Other keynote addresses included “Statistical Meta-analysis of Ordinal Categorical Data” by Shahjahan Khan (Australia), “Universally Optimal Designs in Blocks of Size Three” by Munir Akhtar (Pakistan), “A Brief Review of Geoinformatics Analysis on Poverty Data in Indonesia” by Asep Saefuddin (Indonesia), and “Improved Estimation in Simple Linear Regression Model with Autocorrelated Errors” by Bashir Khan (Canada).

In the Business Session the proposal for the creation of a Centre of Excellence in Statistical Research was approved, to train young statisticians of the OIC member states. Participants agreed on Kuala Lumpur as the venue of the proposed Centre which may pull together the available resources of the University of Malaya, University Putra Malaysia and University Kebangsaan Malaysia. Any affiliated national statistical societies/associations of the OIC member states will be recognized as ISOSS chapters. An International Board of Directors will be formed involving regional representatives to enhance the future growth and activities of ISOSS.

The new President of ISOSS, Ali Hadi emphasized the importance of increasing the membership of ISOSS, strengthening its activities, stability, and sustainability through regular sponsorship and increased collaboration with organisations with similar objectives and professional goals. The Gala Dinner of the conference was held at ISOSS House. Many participants were very impressed to see the ISOSS headquarters for the first time. The names of the people who donated funds for the construction were displayed at the entrance of the newly-built office. The building was completed early 2011.

An interesting day tour to one of the largest salt mines in the world was organised on the last day of the conference. Khewar Salt Mine is about three hours’ drive from Lahore (towards Islamabad). It was discovered in 326 BC. The 17-storey mine has an area of 110 square km—all inside an ordinary-looking mountain. The main visiting locations are two kilometres inside the mountain, accessed by a special rail train. The miners have been extracting salt from the mine for the last 300 years. The participants on the tour were very happy with the arrangements and the exhibits in and around the mine.

It was announced that the next ISOSS conference (ICCS-12) will be hosted by Qatar University in Doha, Qatar, from 19–22 December, 2012. It may be noted that originally the ISOSS conferences were held in the even years but due to unavoidable reasons the last few conferences could not be held in even years. However, from 2012 ISOSS plans to organize its biennial conferences in even years in order to alternate with the International Statistical Institute’s conferences in odd years.

A post-conference workshop on “Successfully publishing research articles in international journals” was presented by Professor Shahjahan Khan at the NCBA&E on 23 December 2011. Eighty academics and researchers including PhD and MPhil students participated in the day-long event. The workshop covered various aspects of preparation of research articles, selection of appropriate journal, formatting and referencing of articles, online submission, review and revision process, citation of published articles, impact factor of journals, international collaboration and co-authors, and H and G indices.

Reported by Shahjahan Khan, University of Southern Queensland, Australia; and Ali S Hadi, The American University of Cairo, Egypt.

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