Honoring great teaching

first_imgIt was sunny and summery on Saturday (Nov. 13), which broke the drear spell of autumn. So what were the odds of enticing 100 people to stay inside — and listen to lectures on statistics?The odds were excellent. That many people attended the inaugural David K. Pickard Memorial Lecture at Maxwell Dworkin. The program was named for a junior faculty member in statistics who died young, but not before winning every major Harvard undergraduate-teaching award for his passion, accessibility, patience, and clarity.“I literally gasped when I saw David’s record,” said Statistics Department Chair Xiao-Li Meng. He called the afternoon symposium a way of expressing “belated but deep gratitude” to Pickard for inspiring a generation of young scholars to become passionate teachers themselves.“Henceforth, the name ‘Pickard’ is going to be synonymous with great teaching,” said Carl N. Morris, a 20-year veteran of Harvard’s statistics faculty.The Canada-born Pickard — dashing, athletic, and an authority in something called the Ising model — did his doctoral work in Australia and taught at Harvard from 1977 to 1985. He died of brain cancer in 1986, shortly after moving to Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.Pickard exemplified a “sea change” in the way Harvard teaches its undergraduates, said statistician Judith Singer, the James Bryant Conant Professor of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and senior vice provost for faculty development and diversity.Honoring Pickard, she added, came at a critical time in a complicated world, when students more than ever have to be “statistically accurate and statistically literate.”For the young scholar, dead too soon, teaching began at home. For one thing, he came from a long line of Canadian mathematicians and scientists. For another, his children felt the heat and light of Pickard’s pedagogical skills. His daughter Darcy, who was in the audience Saturday, is a senior statistician with a British Columbia ecological consulting firm. His son, Damon, is a Kingston paramedic who was 15 when his father died.Damon remembered a vital man who turned card games into lessons on probability, backyard basketball into calculations of optimal throwing arcs, and a neighborhood tree into a lesson on determining height through trigonometry.“Teaching was in his blood,” said Damon. “His life was short. But by all standards, and by all accounts, it was full.”The Pickard lecture, endowed by alumni contributions, will be a biennial affair. The conference was co-organized by Victor Solo, who taught statistics with Pickard at Harvard from 1980 to 1985, and who is now back in his native Australia at the University of New South Wales.He invited the audience to study a picture of the smiling and handsome Pickard. “The first thing is: This guy is a happy man,” he said, one who brought that joy to the classroom, along with confidence, peace, humility, and verve.Add in a sense of adventure. Pickard and his wife, Dale, spent two years teaching in a village high school in Sierra Leone. He continued to ponder statistics there, she said, and came away with “some big ideas.”Pickard’s academic interests included spatial statistics, graphical modeling, and the Ising model. The last, a fixture of statistical mechanics, uses variables called “spins” to emulate ferromagnetism in real substances, like metals that are subjected to magnetic impulses.“He made the difficult understandable,” said Harvard Ph.D. alumnus Colin Goodall, now on the technical staff at AT&T.The perpetual fund in Pickard’s name will pay for the biennial lecture, for a biennial junior faculty award for teaching and mentoring, and for awards related to a new graduate student honor, the Pickard Teaching Fellows. (Winning this year were doctoral students Kevin Rader, Cassandra Wolos Pattanayak, and Xianchao Xie — who is known around the department as “Double X.”)The winner of the first Pickard mentoring award was Assistant Professor Joseph K. Blitzstein, co-director of undergraduate studies in the Statistics Department, who himself is starting to rack up Pickard-esque awards for teaching.Blitzstein, whose mother traveled from Los Angeles to be in the audience, got to show off his teaching chops with a historical lecture on British logician and mathematician Alan Turing (1912-1954), who is widely regarded as the father of modern theoretical computer science. “He was one of the first computer scientists — before there were computers,” said Blitzstein.During World War II, Turing was part of a cryptography team that cracked the Enigma ciphers used by the German military. But by 1952 he was on trial for being openly gay, under the same “gross indecency” statute used against writer Oscar Wilde more than five decades earlier. Convicted, Turing was offered two choices: prison, or chemical castration by massive injections of estrogen. He chose the latter, and two years later committed suicide.Professionally, Turing is now best known for the conceptual and computational work that made computers possible, and for the “Turing test” — still the standard for determining the “intelligence” of a computing machine. But statistics drew his attention as well. Starting with his wartime work, Turing anticipated empirical Bayesian methods. The Bayes factor is now a standard tool in statistical inference, but it was rarely used then.Turing, said Blitzstein, “anticipated many important statistical methods decades before others.”Delivering the first Pickard Memorial Lecture was University of Toronto statistics Professor Jeffrey Rosenthal, whose popular 2005 book “Struck By Lightning: The Curious World of Probabilities” has made him a favorite expert with Canadian print, radio, and television reporters.He talked about his experiences with the media, including “statistical ideas that work on TV.” It was an improbable topic at an academic conference, but one that lit a fire under an audience of authorities on data mining, inference, and regression — concepts that fail to light a fire under most reporters.Solo, the Australian scholar, had an immediate idea: Establish a professorship at Harvard like the one at the University of Cambridge, the Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk. Perhaps it’s time, he said, “to step into the ring.”Rosenthal, who earned a Harvard mathematics Ph.D. at age 24, rolled through a sequence of topics that would be likely to prompt interest from the media.High on the list, of course, was winning the lottery. The secret, Rosenthal said, is not just giving reporters the odds — a 14 million to 1 chance of winning, for instance. Give them an analogy too — the idea, for instance, that winning that same lottery is likely to occur only once every 270,000 years.Then there are the odd media requests: Write something on the board — anything. Get man-on-the-street reactions to your odds. Or in the case of a weather story, report your statistics while out in the wind and the rain. “That’s the way the media works,” said Rosenthal, a veteran of doing all this (and more) on camera.Then there are those times when public feelings contradict the scientific facts. The homicide rate in Toronto one year was so bad that the streets were “bathed in blood,” went one report. In fact, that year Toronto was statistically safer than many other cities in Canada. “You say: Let’s look at the facts,” said Rosenthal. “Of course, there are no headlines in that.”Then there are coincidences, another favorite with headline writers. Rosenthal told the story of one that on face value represented a “1 in 36 billion billion” probability of happening. But when subjected to more rigorous testing, the coincidence in fact had a 38 percent chance of happening. He said reporters hated that, because there was no headline.In the end, as crude as the results may be, reaching out to the media “is one way to teach,” said Rosenthal. “It’s the only media we have. To reach those … millions, there are no other options.” In the end, he said, “our society will be better if people think more logically.”After the symposium, nearly everyone stayed for a catered Chinese dinner, while authorities on probability and the Bayes’ theorem jitterbugged, belted out the blues on hot guitars, blazing keyboards, and — well, OK — one trombone. What are the odds of great music (and dancing) from people who always did their math homework? They were excellent.Rosenthal started the music program on the keyboards by singing a statistician’s version of “Yesterday.” All of their advances in teaching, for one, gave the lie to the spoof’s first line: “Yesterday, students came to class but didn’t stay.”Among the conference guests was 7-year-old David C. Pickard, who survived his grandfather’s academic memorial by reading workbooks and skipping one of the lectures to get ice cream with his mother.After dinner, armed with chopsticks and equipped with Harry Potter glasses, he dodged professors and practiced karate kicks, but he paused to say, “I love math.”last_img read more

SembMarine: Offshore spending rising, but not for new rigs. New orders expected in production units segment

first_imgSingapore’s offshore platform and rig builder Sembcorp Marine sees improvements in global spending on offshore exploration and production, however, it does not expect this to reflect on its near-term business volume. The company will focus on offshore production units as this is where it sees an increasing number of inquiries.Petrojarl Varg FPSO; Image source: Teekay OffshoreThe rig builder on Wednesday reported a net profit of $6 million for the fourth quarter of 2018, compared to a profit of $117 million in the fourth quarter a year ago. Worth reminding, the 4Q profit in 2017 was boosted by contract termination fees for three rigs, and the sale of Cosco shares.“The lower net profit of $6 million reported in 4Q 2018, compared with 4Q 2017, was due to the continued low overall business volume, impairment of an asset and accelerated depreciation costs. This was partially offset by increased margin recognition from the newly secured floater projects and the write-back of provisions for completed projects,” Sembcorp Marine said.For the full year, Sembmarine reported a net loss of $74 million, compared with a net profit of $260 million in FY 2017. New orders worth $1.2 billion were secured in FY 2018, bringing Sembmarine’s total net order book to $6.21 billion as at end December 2018.Wong Weng Sun, President & CEO at Sembcorp Marine said: “The improved outlook for the offshore and marine sector continues. Offshore rigs utilization and day rates for most segments have continued to stabilize or improve, underpinned by more drilling activities.“Offshore capex spending continues to improve with more production projects moving towards final investment decision (FID) stage.”Wong Weng Sun said that while offshore drilling activities have increased, offshore rig orders will take some time to recover as the market remains oversupplied.The CEO said: “While the overall industry outlook continues to improve, significant time and effort for project co-development with potential customers are required before new orders are secured, and competition remains intense.”“Offshore production units are expected to dominate orders pipeline and Sembcorp Marine is responding to increasing inquiries and tenders for innovative engineering solutions.”As reported earlier this week, Rystad Energy expects 33 floating, production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessels to be sanctioned from 2019 to 2021 as oil and gas activity picks up in the offshore sector.Sembcorp Marine has significant experience in this segment. It is currently working to finalize to the agreement signed in October last year for engineering, procurement and construction works relating to the modification, repair and life extension of the Petrojarl Varg FPSO, in a deal valued $166 million.The Singapore-based firm is also currently working on the construction of three offshore production units, two of which are FPSOs. The first newbuild FPSO hull and living quarters project is for Equinor, for the Johan Castberg field development in the Barents Sea, and the second is a newbuild FPSO hull, living quarters and topside modules, for TechnipFMC for deployment in the Energean-operated Karish and Tanin deepwater field in the Eastern Mediterranean.The third production unit SembMarine is currently building is not an FPSO but a TLP platform for Shell’s Vito development in the Gulf of Mexico.Apart from the production units, SembCorp is currently also busy with the construction of Sleipnir, the world’s largest semi-submersible crane vessel (SSCV) for Heerema; and the construction of two high-specification ultra-deepwater drillships for Transocean.Overall, the CEO said on Wednesday that the business volume and activity for the Group, while stabilizing, is expected to remain relatively low.“We will continue to take steps to manage our costs, cash flows and gearing to address our balance sheet to capitalize on new business opportunities,” Weng Sung said.Offshore Energy Today Stafflast_img read more

St. Benilde overcomes 15-point deficit, slips past Mapua

first_imgMarinerong Pilipino stuns Tanduay, enters D-League semis Filipinos turn Taal Volcano ash, plastic trash into bricks PLAY LIST 01:40Filipinos turn Taal Volcano ash, plastic trash into bricks01:32Taal Volcano watch: Island fissures steaming, lake water receding02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite Vilma Santos, Luis Manzano warn public of fake account posing as her For the complete collegiate sports coverage including scores, schedules and stories, visit Inquirer Varsity. Marcosian mode: Duterte threatens to arrest water execs ‘one night’ Ai-Ai delas Alas on Jiro Manio: ‘Sana pinahalagahan niya ang naitulong ko’ 787 earthquakes recorded in 24 hours due to restive Taal Volcano Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next LATEST STORIES Carlo Young also shot 4-of-9 from threes to wound up with 13 points and four rebounds, while Edward Dixon registered 10 markers and 10 boards.“I’m just super happy and super enthusiastic right now. It took out all of the fatigue we’re feeling,” said coach TY Tang, as the Blazers outscored the Cardinals, 22-8 in the fourth quarter. “It’s really the character that we’re trying to build up. We’re slowly getting there.”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSEnd of his agony? SC rules in favor of Espinosa, orders promoter heirs to pay boxing legendSPORTSRedemption is sweet for Ginebra, Scottie ThompsonSPORTSMayweather beats Pacquiao, Canelo for ‘Fighter of the Decade’St. Benilde crawled out of a 56-41 deficit with three minutes to play in the third frame and continued on chipping away the lead in the payoff period before finally grabbing the lead, 65-64, with 6:23 to play.With the Blazers holding on to a 72-69 lead in the final minute, the Cardinals had a shot to force overtime, but Andoy Estrella muffed his trey as Rene Sta. Maria iced the game with two freebies with 4.6 ticks left. Albay to send off disaster response team to Batangas View comments Photo by Tristan Tamayo/ INQUIRER.netSt. Benilde snapped its four-game losing skid and downed Mapua, 74-69, Tuesday in the NCAA Season 93 men’s basketball tournament Tuesday at Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.JJ Domingo reached a new career-high, pouring 24 points and four rebounds for the Blazers, while Clement Leutcheu tallied a double-double in tune of his 14 markers and 17 boards.ADVERTISEMENT Teen gunned down in Masbate Quarters: 13-12, 31-38, 52-61, 74-69. End of his agony? SC rules in favor of Espinosa, orders promoter heirs to pay boxing legend 787 earthquakes recorded in 24 hours due to restive Taal Volcano MOST READ 2 nabbed in Bicol drug stings Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. St. Benilde improved to 2-4, finally tasting a victory in the hard court after its first win came out of a technicality after Perpetual wore the wrong uniform in their season opener.Christian Bunag led the way for Mapua (1-5) with 13 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks, while Estrella and JP Nieles both had 12.The Scores:ST. BENILDE 74 – Domingo 24, Leutcheu 14, Young 13, Dixon 10, Sta. Maria 6, San Juan 4, Naboa 3, Castor 0, Suarez 0, Pili 0, Bunyi 0.MAPUA 69 – Bunag 13, Estrella 12, Nieles 12, Magboo 12, Raflores 7, Gabo 4, Victoria 4, Orquina 3, Aguirre 2.ADVERTISEMENTlast_img read more

Injury news good for Rosemead’s productive pair

first_imgImagine what was running through Rosemead High School football coach Matt Koffler’s head when two-way player Deon Sumler and quarterback Jose Camarena both struggled to pick themselves off the ground following injuries that happened on the same play in the Panthers’ 14-0 victory over Gladstone last week. Sumler shook off his injury and finished with 185 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 “You always worry when anyone goes down, but I figured Deon’s injury wasn’t so bad because he’s such a tough kid,” Koffler said. “Sometimes he gets a bad (reputation) about his effort and attitude, but it’s quite the contrary. He’s a tough kid who gives it his all. “Jose’s injury was different. We felt he was going to be fine because he was responding OK. But anytime you get hit hard like that, and complain of stiffness that runs from your neck to your shoulder, it’s best to be as cautious as possible, and that’s what happened. Both are fine, and we’re ready to go.” Koffler was hoping to test Camarena’s arm, but was forced to go with his bread and butter in Sumler, who responded even though he knew everyone would key on him with Camarena sidelined. “It was good to see him have to respond in that way,” Koffler said. “It’s something he’s used to because he carried us last year.” With Mission League play a month away, Koffler said he didn’t know how much to make of league champion Arroyo’s close call with Temple City (a 21-17 victory), or South El Monte’s 49-19 victory over San Dimas. “The Arroyo-Temple City game I knew would be close because those are two great coaching staffs and they have the same type of player,” Koffler said. “But I don’t know what to make of South El Monte. They beat a team with a new coach, and one that lost of lot of players. But we know they have a lot of returners and are going to be tough.” – Monrovia is 2-0 after victories over Bassett (52-6) and Duarte (16-7), but next up is defending Division VII champion West Covina, which opened with an impressive 28-12 victory over Diamond Ranch. The Bulldogs beat the Wildcats 38-0 last year and have many of the same faces back for Friday’s game. “They have a pretty good swagger going right now,” Wildcats coach Steve Garrison said of the Bulldogs. “They don’t do anything too flashy, they just stay in basic sets and trust each other. “For us to stay in this game, we have to put together consistent drives on offense and be tough against a very athletic offense that West Covina has.” The next three games will be big for Monrovia. The Wildcats started 2-0 last year, then lost to West Covina, Rosemead and Charter Oak. Following West Covina, they will face Rosemead and Charter Oak again before league play starts. “The real tests are coming up,” Garrison said. “If we can get some wins against not just upper-division teams, but upper-division championship-type teams — those are the type of wins that give you value.” — Fred J. Robledo can be reached at (626) 962-8811, Ext. 4485, or by e-mail at [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!center_img Camarena wasn’t as fortunate. He left the game with 3:08 left in the first quarter and was taken by ambulance to a local hospital after complaining of stiffness in his neck. But Camarena was released that same evening, is practicing this week, and will start in Friday’s game against Baldwin Park (1-0). last_img read more