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Celebrating 50 years of Statistics at TCD2017 November 15

This year marked the 50th year of the discipline of Statistics at TCD. This special milestone was marked by a day of events on the 14th November. A short course on ‘Imprecise Probability’ took place in the morning. The course, sponsored by the Irish Statistical Association, was delivered by Dr. Cassio de Campos (Queen’s Belfast) and Dr. Alessandro Antonucci (Lugano, Switzerland). A special gathering was held in the afternoon bringing together former staff and students of the Statistics group, as well as current members of the School and College. The aim of the gathering was to be both retrospective and prospective; looking at our history with the help of former staff and students and discussing our future.

The afternoon event began with a presentation by Michael Stuart, who compiled a booklet to coincide with the occasion, outlining the main historical junctures of the discipline over its five decades. This gave a rich perspective on the origins of the discipline, beginning with the appointment of the first Chair of Statistics, Prof. Gordon Foster, in 1967, and particularly, how his strong leadership steered the research engagements and ideologies of the group in its infancy. The floor was then opened to people to recount any stories of their own experiences of Statistics at TCD. There were many fond memories shared, and much hearty laughter to be heard.

Following this there was a panel discussion on the future of Statistics at Trinity, in Ireland and beyond. The panel comprised Prof. Adrian Raftery (Washington), Milton Martinez (Accenture), Chris Sibley (Central Statistics Office) and Prof. Nial Friel (Insight at UCD). The discussion touched on many issues; the role played by Statistics in the Data Science era and the central role of Statisticians in many areas of research and business. The panel also discussed the issue of data privacy, a topic of huge importance. The panel identified Statistics as a key strategic discipline on a societal level, playing an important role in many aspects of the modern Irish and global economy. The event was followed by a food and wine reception in the O’Reilly institute.

Joining in the celebration were the Provost, Dr. Patrick Prendergast, the Faculty Dean, Prof. Vinny Cahill and the Head of School, Prof. Carol O’Sullivan.