Annual General Meeting of the Society

BMA House, Tavistock Square, London (nearest tube: Euston)
Meeting Date: 
Friday, 10 November, 2017 - 15
Presidential Address: Simon Tavaré (Cambridge); Zoubin Ghahramani (Cambridge)

3.00pm - 6.00pm


  • ​Annual General Meeting

AGM Agenda and papers.

The meeting will include the presentation of certificates to all 2017 LMS Prize-winners

Zoubin Ghahramani (Professor of Information Engineering, University of Cambridge; Chief Scientist, Uber)

Bayesian statistics, non-parametrics, neural networks, and artificial intelligence

Abstract: Probability theory and statistics are the foundations of recent advances in data science, machine learning and AI. These fields are having and will continue to have an increasing impact on our daily lives, underpinning technologies such as online shopping and advertising, social networks and social media, conversational AI agents, speech and translation systems, robots and self-driving cars.  I will try to paint a coherent picture of how these fields are related, and review the trajectory from Bayesian statistics to non-parametrics and deep learning (aka neural networks). I will finish with some future exciting directions for future research.

• Tea/Coffee

• Announcement of Election Results and handover of the Presidency.

Simon Tavaré (Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics & Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, University of Cambridge) - Presidential Address

The magical Ewens Sampling Formula

Abstract: Starting with n cooked spaghetti strands, tie randomly chosen ends together to produce a collection of spaghetti loops. What is the expected number of loops? What can be said about the distribution of the number of loops of length 1, 2, …? What is the behaviour of the longest loops when n is large? What is the probability that all the loops have different lengths? Questions like this appear in many guises in many areas of mathematics, the connection being their relation to the Ewens Sampling Formula (ESF). I will describe a number of related examples, including prime factorisation, random mappings and random permutations, illustrating the central role played by the ESF. I will also discuss methods for simulating decomposable combinatorial structures by exploiting another wonder of the ESF world, namely the Feller Coupling. Analysis of a children’s playground game shows that apparently small departures from the Feller model can open up a number of unsolved problems. Several past presidents of the LMS have contributed to the theory around the ESF, as I will illustrate. 

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The meeting will be followed by a reception at De Morgan House and the Society’s Annual Dinner, which will be held at Montague on the Gardens Hotel, Montague Street.

The cost to attend the dinner will be £58 per person. Those wishing to attend the dinner should contact John Johnston ( by Friday 27th October.

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A Graduate Student Meeting will precede the Annual General Meeting.  It will also be held at BMA House from 9.30 am - 3.00 pm. This meeting is intended as an introduction to the Society Meeting later in the day. All graduate students (and indeed any other mathematicians) will be very welcome.  


Coffee and Registration

Ioanna Manolopoulou (UCL): Clustering Variable-Length Order Statistics Sequences in Retail Analytics

Abstract: The rise of “big data” has led to the frequent need to store and process data sets consisting of large numbers of high dimensional observations. Due to storage restrictions, these observations might be recorded in a lossy-but-sparse manner, with information collapsed onto a few entries which are considered important. This results in informative missingness in the observed data. Our motivating application comes from retail analytics, where the behaviour of product sales is summarised by the price cross-elasticity of each product with respect to a small number of its top competitors. The resulting data comprise vectors of cross-elasticities where only the top few entries are observed. Interest lies in characterising the behaviour of a product’s competitors, and clustering products based on how their competition is spread across the market. We develop nonparametric Bayesian models to represent these partially observed cross-elasticity vectors, which take into account the inherent censoring of the observation process. Our methodology treats the observed cross-elasticity vectors as order statistics sequences of variable length, using a Dirichlet Process Mixture Model with a Exponentiated Weibull kernel. Our approach allows us added flexibility for the distribution of each vector, while readily providing parameters that directly characterise the decay of the leading entries. We implement our methods on a retail analytics dataset of the cross-elasticity coefficients, and our analysis reveals a few distinct types of behaviour across the different products of interest.

Joint work with James Pitkin and Gordon Ross

Graduate Student Talks (Six slots available for 15 minute talks by Graduate Students aimed at a general mathematical audience with a prize for the best talk)


Hao Ni (UCL): Modelling the Effects of Data Streams using the Rough Paths Theory

Registration: Register for you free place here by 3 November. All refreshments including lunch will be provided.

Student Talks: Students are invited to give short talks (15 minutes) aimed at a general mathematical audience with prizes awarded for the best two talks. If you want to give a talk, email Anthony Byrne ( with a title and short abstract by 21 October.

Funding for Travel and Accommodation: For students who attend both the Graduate Student Meeting and the LMS AGM, the Society offers funding of up to £50 towards travel costs, and funding of up to £50 towards accommodation costs (for those travelling long distances).

For further details about the Graduate Student Meeting and the AGM, please contact Elizabeth Fisher (

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How to get to BMA House

A route planner can be found here

Ground Floor layout for Graduate Student Meeting (Anderson Barnes Suite).

Third Floor layout for Bevan Suite (Annual General Meeting & Presidential Address) and Harvey Room (Refreshments)

Please note there will be three flights of stairs. A lift and stair lifts are available for those with step-free access needs.

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