Mathematical Aspects of Graphical Models: An LMS Durham Research Symposium

Lead Research Organisation: Durham University
Department Name: Mathematical Sciences


Graphical models originate in statistical physics and genetics but were introduced into modern statistics by Besag in 1974 and by Darroch, Lauritzen and Speed in 1980. Since then, graphical models have earned their firm place in the statistical literature and in a number of other areas, notably probabilistic expert systems, general decision analysis and bioinformatics.Graphical models aim to give simple descriptions of complex structures. As well as supplying directly interpretable visual representations of knowledge, they exploit modularity to support representation, mathematical manipulation, and computation. This renders complex systems amenable to relatively simple analysis.In recent years it has become apparent that the efficient and consistent treatment of these models depends strongly on several mathematical subjects and in turn generates an abundance of problems with a substantial mathematical content or even mathematical problems of interest in their own right. This makes it a particularly opportune time to hold a high-quality international symposium in this area. It will help to place UK researchers at the forefront of this fast-moving branch of mathematics. We propose to bring the top UK and international researchers in these fields together in the informal atmosphere provided by an LMS Durham Symposium. This will give the opportunity for the exchange of ideas and cross-fertilization of research expertise. We are confident that exciting new international collaborations will be realised if this proposal comes to fruition. The symposium will have an uncluttered lecture programme, with ample opportunities for discussions, collaborations and informal talks. Our aim is to ensure that all are aware of new techniques and the new challenges that are arising for our areas of focus. By bringing together a broad range of experts, this meeting will have a significant impact on the development of these rich areas of research. The results of the meeting will be distributed initially via an actively-managed and easily accessible website, which will contain a list of participants, abstracts of talks and other relevant information. The main talks will be recorded (with permission of the speakers) with a camcorder, and will be placed on the website within one month of the finish of the meeting. Lecture notes and/or slides will also be put on the site, and all this material will be made freely available to all.A more detailed record of the meeting will be provided by the publication in research journals of cutting-edge articles inspired by the subjects covered in the meeting. The conference is expected to provide a major lasting fillip to world research on mathematical aspects of graphical models.


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