Nobel laureate speaks at statistics and data science seminar – Student Life

Lars Peter Hansen speaks to audience (Jamie Nicholson | Student Life)
Distinguished University of Chicago economics professor and Nobel Laureate Lars Peter Hansen spoke about “Uncertainty” in economics to 150 seminar attendees at the Charles F. Knight Executive Education & Conference Center on Tuesday, Oct. 17. 
Hansen is an expert on “Uncertainty” in economic modeling, which includes how factors like risk, ambiguity, and inherent flaws can affect economic models. His speech, titled “Risk, Ambiguity, and Misspecification: Decision Theory, Robust Control, and Statistics,” focused on how his theories can be applied to global problems like climate change. 
The seminar was hosted by WashU’s Department of Statistics and Data Science and featured a reception following the hour-long speech. Co-sponsors for the event included the Center for Dynamic Economics, the Transdisciplinary Institute in Applied Data Sciences, and the Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government, and Public Policy. 
Hansen’s theories are considered innovative and interdisciplinary because they utilize mathematical, statistical, and computational methods in order to better understand risky situations and changing environments.  
One application of Hansen’s work is climate change research. Because future effects of climate change cannot be precisely defined, Hansen said that he can apply his theories to it in an attempt to predict outcomes of emissions, for example.   
“There’s a lot of evidence that things like geosciences, CO2 emissions, will have a big impact on the climate in 10 years,” Hansen said while explaining how his work can account for variability in these factors.
Hansen said that although his models can be used to better understand the uncertainty surrounding climate change, there are still many questions that remain unanswered. 
Xuming He, the inaugural chair of the Department of Statistics and Data Science, worked to coordinate the event. He believes the event was successful and said the seminar was so well attended that it even needed an overflow room. 
We had to use the main classroom as well as an overflow room to accommodate the audience from across the WashU campuses, which made it clear that we at WashU are embracing the collaborative and cross-disciplinary spirit of data science in the digital age,” said He. 
WashU’s Department of Statistics and Data Science was established this year and seeks to utilize data to answer big problems facing the global community, a goal that Hansen’s work exemplifies.  
“[Hansen’s lecture] demonstrated the value of interdisciplinary approaches in addressing big problems of our times,” said He.
Tags: climate change, economy, statistics
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