# ISBA towards higher computing goals [yet another new section!!!]

September 19, 2012
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(This article was first published on Xi'an's Og » R, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

Surrounding the great and exciting gathering of Bayesian statisticians in Kyoto last June, several ISBA sections have appeared in the past weeks, as already mentioned on the ‘Og. Along with Anto Mira and Nicolas Chopin (who did most of the organisational work while I was wandering down under!), we discussed about a Bayesian computation section and, thanks to the massive support of the community, we engaged into setting this new section of ISBA, with the help of Peter Green and Håvard Rue. The structure has now been granted an approval stamp by the ISBA highest powers and so here we are with a brand new ISBA Section on Bayesian Computation!!! (A notion I remember discussing with Peter Müller in Valparaiso in…2004!) I think I was the first member to join the section, following the announcement of its official creation by Merlise Clyde… Here is a draft of the call to potential members (along with my own comments):

Over the past twenty years, Bayesian computation has been a tremendous catalyst in Bayesian ideas reaching practitioners – statisticians and non-statisticians alike. It has also providied a fantastic arena for original research in algorithmic statistics and numerical probability, not to mention other fields at the interface. At this more mature stage of its development, at a time where ambitions of statisticians and the expectations on statistics grow, Bayesian computation must remain a major area of research and innovation. Then principled methods of statistical analysis can continue to be both readily available and customarily implemented, as we deal with data on a (much) larger scale, in higher dimensions and with more complex structure.

We invite all ISBA members with (any degree of) interest in computation for Bayesian inference to join the newly created ISBA Section on Bayesian Computation (BayesComp) – and that means both researchers involved in developing new computational methods and associated theory, and users of Bayesian statistical methods interested in implementing, sharing, disseminating, or learning best practice. The purposes of the Section are as multifaceted as the aspects of Bayesian computation, including promoting original research into computational methods for Bayesian inference and decision making, encouraging the use of frontier computational tools among practitioners, the development of adapted software, languages, platforms, and dedicated machines, and translating and disseminating among statisticians methods developed in other disciplines.

To address these purposes, the Section will among other activities organise specific conferences (such as the upcoming MCMSki IV in January 2014), workshops, short courses, webinars, and sessions in other meetings like ISBA and JSM, and will develop and maintain a website of information, tools, and advice as an authoritative central resource for Bayesian computation. The first such resource is already posted: the ISBA Foundation Lecture by Christian Robert on “Approximate Bayesian computation (ABC): Advances and Questions.”[I am definitely not responsible for this inclusion!]

Section dues are only $5 a year or$75 for a Lifetime membership. As part of the Fall (Autumn) Membership Promotion, all new annual memberships will be extended until 31 December, 2013! The section will be holding elections in November, so please join today so that you may participate in choosing the first set of elected officers–and please contact us if you are interested in any of the elected positions! More details to come on the BayesComp section website and the ISBA Bulletin. [You should definitely opt for the Life membership as I did, given that the transaction costs are paid only once! This also means more money for the Section to support younger members towards travel to conferences...]

Welcome to Year 1 BC (BayesComp)!

Nicolas Chopin, Peter Green, Antonietta Mira, Christian Robert and Håvard Rue.

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