Covid pandemic highlighted importance of statistics: Cambridge varsity professor

INDIA’S LARGE and diverse population provides an ideal base for biostatistical research, Cambridge University’s Prof Sir David John Spiegelhalter said here on Tuesday.

Spiegelhalter, FRE, OBE, Chair, Winton Center for Risk and Evidence Communication, Department of Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics, University of Cambridge, speaks to graduate students as the main guest during the 57th Convocation at the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI). “Statisticians should embrace the rise of data science and machine learning,” he said.

Using the example of the Covid-19 pandemic, he spoke about the constant demand for explanations of statistics related to Covid.

“Covid has meant constant demands for explanations for the vast body of statistics the public has been bombarded with. That was challenging. First, there are many complex statistical issues, such as defining a Covid death, testing procedures, false positives and negatives, excess deaths, and so on,” he said.

During the convocation, degrees and diplomas were awarded to students in the fields of statistics, mathematics, computer science, quantitative economics, quality, reliability, operations research, etc. In total, 716 students passed various courses in 2022. A total of 29 students received their doctorates from the institute.

A total of 365 students were awarded Ph.D., Masters, Degrees and PG Diploma. There were 29 Ph.Ds, 212 Masters, 77 degrees and 47 postgraduate degrees in various categories. In addition, 15 students were recognized for their outstanding achievements. In addition, a total of 62 candidates received the Post Graduate Diploma in Business Analytics (PGDBA).

“The pandemic has shown everyone how important statistics are both for politics and for the public understanding of what is going on. But we know that statistics can be used or misused to support extreme claims, especially on social media, and it can be difficult to strike a balance between polarized opinions. There is often pressure from the media to have a strong opinion, which I think statisticians and other scientists should reject.”
he added.

dr GP Samanta, Chief Statistician of India and Secretary Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation, Dr. Sankar Kumar Pal, National Science Chair, SERB DST, Former Director and Distinguished Scientist and President of ISI, Prof. Sanghamitra Bandyopadhyay, Director of the Institute and Prof Amita Pal, Dean of Studies were present.

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