Department of Statistics Unitmark
Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences
December 7, 2015, 3:23PM

Ryan Tibshirani’s father is a statistician, but that is not the reason he went into the field. To Tibshirani, statistics is special because of its broad potential to impact almost any domain or field.

“I went into statistics because I enjoy the beauty and elegance of math, but I wanted to feel more closely connected to science and data,” said Tibshirani, assistant professor of statistics in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “I found my own way to statistics because I loved the subject, but being able to share this passion and publish papers with my father is very special.”

At Carnegie Mellon University, Tibshirani is involved in both undergraduate and graduate teaching and research. In his research, he develops mathematical models that work to understand simple patterns or structures that may be present in complicated data sets. With these models, he can leverage patterns and structures to predict unseen values of data. This concept can be applied to many different scientific domains.

For example, with Roni Rosenfeld, a professor in the School of Computer Science, Tibshirani formed the research group DELPHI, which...

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December 7, 2015, 3:19PM

IEEE, the world’s largest technical professional organization, will award Carnegie Mellon University faculty members John Lehoczky and Ragunathan “Raj” Rajkumar and the University of Illinois’ Lui Sha, a CMU alumnus, with the 2016 IEEE Simon Ramo Medal, which recognizes technical leadership and contributions to fundamental theory, practice and standardization for engineering real-time systems.

Lehoczky, Ragunathan and Sha are being honored for revolutionizing how systems handle tasks with deadlines under serious weight, power and space constraints. Their work has been used on the original Mars Rover, NASA’s Space Station, submarines, military jets and GPS satellites.

The trio will receive their medals, sponsored by the Northrop Grumman Corporation, at the IEEE Honors Ceremony in New York City on June 18.

Lehoczky, the Thomas Lord University Professor of Statistics and Mathematical Sciences, has been on the CMU faculty since 1969. In addition to his work studying stochastic processes and how they can be used to model real applications, he is well known for applying stochastic modeling to problems in finance. He helped create CMU’s unique...

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December 4, 2015, 2:40PM

Our new statistics department-sponsored student organization, Tartan Sports Analytics Club, was honored last night as a finalist for "Outstanding New Initiative" at the Student Organization & Award Recognition ceremony. The SOAR Awards are annually presented by the CMU Office of Student Activities and Student Government.

You can learn more about the Tartan Sports Analytics Club here:
and follow them @CMUAnalytics.

December 4, 2015, 2:34PM

We are thrilled to announce that Rebecca Nugent is this year's winner of the American Statistical Association Waller Education Award. The award was meant to highlight an individual's commitment to teaching statistics, and their innovation in the field. Awardees are also selected for work that is impactful in the field of statistics beyond their own teachings and institution. The award is given based on letters of recommendation from students, and colleagues, and supervisors.

You can read more about the Waller Awards here:

Congratulations, Rebecca!

October 22, 2015, 11:54AM

Stephen Fienberg has been selected to give the R.A. Fisher Lecture at the 2015 Joint Statistical Meetings in North America. The R.A. Fisher Lectureship was established in 1963 by COPSS to honor both the contributions of Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher and the work of a present-day statistician for their advancement of statistical theory and applications. The Fisher Lectureship is a very high recognition of meritorious achievement and scholarship in statistical science and recognizes highly significant impact of statistical methods on scientific investigations. COPSS has required that the Lectureship be awarded each year and that when possible the lecture be presented each year at the Joint Annual Meeting of Societies. The lecturer shall be selected by the COPSS R. A. Fisher Lecture and Award Committee which is chosen to reflect the interests of the member Societies. Fienberg is the Maurice Falk University Professor of Statistics and Social Sciences.

October 22, 2015, 11:06AM

The federal Brain Initiative aims to revolutionize understanding of the human brain through development of innovative technologies. The new data being generated pose new challenges for statistical and machine learning methods. Rob Kass chaired a working group of the American Statistical Association ( that articulated these challenges. Together with Emery Brown (MIT and Harvard Medical School), he was interviewed for Chance magazine. Kass and Brown’s book Analysis of Neural Data (,+medicine+%26+health/book/978-1-4614-9601-4) was published last year.

October 20, 2015, 12:00AM

On Tuesday, October 20, Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of Statistics celebrated World Statistics Day with a pizza party for faculty, staff and students. Guests were encouraged to share statistics-themed desserts, with prizes for the tastiest treats and the most clever statistics puns. Entries included a cake decorated with a scatter plot, “model-based coconut clusters,” “Tukey lime pie” and “chai squares”—chai-spiced bar cookies named for the chi-squared distribution. The coconut clusters and chai squares tied for first place.

The contest has roots in the department’s holiday parties, where dessert competitions figure prominently. Justin Hyun, a Ph.D. student in statistics, won the previous contest with M & M’s candies hidden in yogurt parfaits. The dessert concept was a nod to the hidden Markov model (HMM for short.)

“Data is everywhere. As a mathematics major before coming to CMU, I appreciate the real world application of math in data analysis and statistics,” Hyun said.

Sponsored by the Statistics Division of the United Nations’ Department of Economic and Social Affairs, World Statistics Day offers an opportunity for...

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October 6, 2015, 12:00AM

For the third time, the Master of Science in Computational Finance (MSCF) program at Carnegie Mellon University was awarded the top position in the 2015 QuantNet rankings of financial engineering programs.

Recognized as the most comprehensive ranking of master’s programs in financial engineering and mathematical finance in North America, QuantNet’s methodology includes a survey of hiring managers, corporate recruiters and professionals from financial institutions.

“Earning the top ranking for the past three polls is a testament to the strength of the MSCF network,” said Rick Bryant, executive director of the MSCF program. “Our faculty, administrators and alumni never stop working for our students and this program.”

This year, 30 master’s programs in North America were surveyed on admissions, placements and career services information. The rankings were based on a weighted average of employer surveys, placement success and student selectivity.

“We work hard to attract bright and highly motivated students who can meet the demands of the increasingly quantitative and computational financial markets,” said Bryant. “Our commitment to...

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September 29, 2015, 12:00AM

Eight Dietrich College seniors have been selected to the Andrew Carnegie Society (ACS) Scholars Class of 2016.

ACS Scholars are CMU undergraduates who achieve high standards of academic excellence combined with outside of the classroom activities, such as volunteerism, involvement in student organizations, participation in sports or the arts and leadership.

Zora Gilbert
Gilbert is a linguistics major, with minors in psychology and professional writing. As both a teaching assistant and co-president of the undergraduate Linguistics club, Gilbert has developed into both a leader and a reliable and much sought-after source of support for their peers, particularly in matters of gender identify and self-assertion. Their studies and capabilities have led them into several roles and initiatives that reflect their desire and intention to have their work result in real and positive social impact. For example, last summer Gilbert received a grant to intern at a leading child language research lab in New York City and work in the classroom as a volunteer with the East Harlem Tutorial Program. This experience helped shape their senior honors thesis,...

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September 24, 2015, 12:00AM

Carnegie Mellon University has appointed Robert E. Kass interim co-director of the Center of the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC). Kass, professor of statistics and machine learning, is one of the world’s foremost experts on using statistics in neuroscience, a key component of CMU’s approach to brain research.

Kass succeeds Marlene Behrmann, the George A. and Helen Dunham Cowan Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, who has stepped down to focus on her research.

The CNBC is a joint project between Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh that was founded 21 years ago to investigate the neural mechanisms that give rise to human cognitive abilities. The center integrates Pitt’s strengths in basic and clinical neuroscience with CMU’s strengths in psychology, computer science,...

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