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Edinburgh Local group
Archives: 2004-2005

Tuesday 12th October 2004 at 18:00, International Centre for Mathematical Sciences, 14 India Street, Edinburgh.

Laura Ashley and the Termite

John Barber (AOC Archaeology Group)

The human race has only one mechanism for the discovery of 'truth', or at least for the development of its scientific disciplines and that subsists in the recognition of patterns. Statistics are frequently used in archaeology for the 'validation' of observed patterns and more importantly, for the consequent substantiation of social, political and economic theories. There is a consistent belief throughout the archaeological profession that pattern can be equated with intent and that all pattern conveys some information about human intentionality. This is probably not true and even if it were, archaeological data rarely provides the opportunity for an independent assessment of the reality of the statistically derived pattern and the interpretations imposed upon them.

In archaeology, statistics are generally as useful as a chocolate teapot. Is this a characteristic of archaeology or of statistics and is there anything we can do to improve upon it?

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Tuesday 9th November 2004 at 18:00, International Centre for Mathematical Sciences, 14 India Street, Edinburgh.

Freedom of Information Act

Kevin Dunion, Scottish Information Commissioner

Kevin Dunion was appointed as the first Scottish Information Commissioner in February 2003. The Commissioner has two main responsibilities: to make sure that people are aware of their right to access information under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act and then to enforce this right to make sure that people get the information they are entitled to.

Before becoming the Scottish Information Commissioner, Kevin was for many years a prominent campaigner for freedom of information. He went on to be involved in shaping the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act, giving evidence to the Justice Committee scrutinising the passage of the Bill through the Scottish Parliament.

He has also written widely on the subject of freedom of information. His latest book "Troublemakers - the Struggle for Environmental Justice in Scotland" includes a chapter on the campaign for freedom of information in Scotland.

"I know from my own experience how frustrating it is when requests for information are mislaid, ignored or unreasonably refused. My role as Commissioner provides the public with someone to turn to seek redress. I believe strongly that freedom of information underpins wider aspirations of making public authorities accountable, building public trust in those authorities and assisting citizens to engage with decision making processes which affect them."

This talk will explore the impact of the Freedom of Information Act on the work of statistics professionals in Scotland.

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Tuesday 7th December 2004 at 18:00, International Centre for Mathematical Sciences, 14 India Street, Edinburgh.

Counting Danes in Drumnadrochit?

Gerhard Mors and Catriona Hayes (Scottish Executive)

A grand tour of the peaks and troughs of tourism statistics, from John o'Groats to the Matterhorn. Jams and jewellery, heather and hogmanay, satellites and samples (not the tasty ones). How do we measure pleasure?
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Tuesday 18th January 2005 at 18:00, International Centre for Mathematical Sciences, 14 India Street, Edinburgh.

Assessing Indebtedness and Affordability

Paul Russell (Experian-Scorex)

Since the Government set up its Task Force on Tackling Over-indebtedness, the Credit Industry and the Credit Reference Agencies have been under increasing pressure to improve the way the granting of consumer credit is controlled. In this talk Paul Russell, New Solutions Director at Experian-Scorex, describes how Experian has responded to this pressure by developing a range of indices designed to help lenders assess consumer indebtedness and affordability. The presentation will describe the data sources and development methodology, the issues faced and present initial results.

Special Meeting: Thursday 17th February 2005 at 18:00, International Centre for Mathematical Sciences, 14 India Street, Edinburgh.

Edinburgh, Statistics and their Place in the Evolution of Medicine as an Evidence-Based Science

Andy Grieve (President of the RSS)

The famous controlled trial by James Lind - a graduate of Edinburgh - in 1747 in which he investigated the effect of oranges and lemons on scurvy is well-known and is often seen as standing alone. In fact relatively recent research has shown that far from being an isolated event, Lind's trial was but one example of many attempts to introduce quantitative measurement into medicine in the 18th century. In this talk I will look at other examples from the 18th century and look at the parallels that there are with modern evidence-based medicine.

Wednesday 9th March 2005 at 18:00, International Centre for Mathematical Sciences, 14 India Street, Edinburgh.

Stochastic Population Dynamics

Xuerong Mao  (Strathclyde University)
Population systems are often subject to environmental noise. One way in which the noise is introduced is through the perturbation of system parameters. Indeed, we usually estimate the system parameters by their average values plus some error terms and we may assume that the error terms follow normal distributions, but the standard deviations of the errors, known as the noise intensities, may or may not be dependent on population sizes. In this way, we may describe different types of noise by Brownian motions while the population systems under environmental noise may be described by different types of stochastic differential equations (SDEs). By studying these SDEs, we will reveal that a different type of environmental noise has a different effect on population systems. In particular, we will show:
    (1) Noise changes the behaviour of population dynamics significantly.
    (2) Noise may suppress the potential population explosion.
    (3) Noise may make the population extinct.
    (4) Noise may help to stabilise the population dynamics.ts.

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Special meeting held jointly with the Social Research Association: Tuesday 22nd March 2005 at 18:00, International Centre for Mathematical Sciences, 14 India Street, Edinburgh.

The Scottish House Condition Survey
Local House Condition Surveys in Scotland

Andy Robinson  (Communities Scotland)
Valerie Strachan (Tribal HCH)

The Scottish House Condition Survey is the national housing survey, assessing the physical condition of dwellings as well as interviewing occupiers. It provides the information required for policy development in housing and community regeneration, However, there may be limitations in using the data to address more local concerns. The local housing condition survey is seen as a more appropriate information source in these cases, and local authorities are encouraged to invest in these in order to assess their operational requirements in relation to their housing stock. These presentations explore the relationship between the Scottish House Condition Survey and local house condition surveys in terms of informing national and local policy and practice.

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Business and Industrial Section of the Royal Statistical Society: Wednesday 27th April 2005 at 17:00, Lecture Room 5, Management School of Edinburgh University, Bristo Square, Edinburgh.

How much can machines model? Pros and cons of automated modelling systems in marketing practice.
The application of Statistics in Marketing.

Warwick Beresford-Jones & Kirstin Donaldson (Marketing Databasics)
Jason Morgan (M&S Money)

Refreshments will be available from 14:30. For further information about this meeting or about the Business and Industrial Section, please contact Jake Ansell:

Tuesday 10th May 2005 at 18:00, Quaker Meeting Houses, 7 Victoria Terrace, Edinburgh.

Fraud, Research Misconduct, and Good Clinical Practice

Gordon Murray (Public Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh Medical School)

Occasional cases of blatant scientific fraud hit the media and have a devastating impact on the public perception of the reliability of research findings. However, in terms of the integrity of the scientific record, I believe that widespread incompetence has far more impact than deliberate deception. I shall try to explore the continuum which runs from fraud via incompetence to good practice in clinical research.

Refreshements served from 17.30. The Local Group AGM follows the talk at 18.45

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