Upcoming events


Monday 27th February - Statistics & The Law (jointly hosted with the RSS Statistics and Law section)

***This event will be livestreamed***

  • Speakers:
  • Time: 17:30-19:00, followed by drinks and nibbles.
  • Place:
    • Attend in person at room LT908, Livingstone Tower, University of Strathclyde, G1 1HX, or...
    • Join us online via the livestream broadcast (see Registration below).
  • Summaries:
    • Jane Hutton: Epidemiological evidence in civil legal cases - 'If anticoagulants had been administered sooner, my client would not have died.' 'This drug damaged the sight of my patient.' How much money should be awarded to a child who is disabled due to medical negligence? Should a teenager with cancer be given active treatment if doctors estimate he has two weeks to live? Statements and questions such as these are the basis of civil law suits, in which one party claims damages from a second party, or demands particular actions. Many lawyers still only request expert opinions from medical doctors. However, statisticians can contribute to civil law suits by finding evidence relevant to the particular case, evaluating it, and them presenting the information.

      Livingstone Tower, University of Strathclyde

    • Tereza Neocleous: Models for forensic speaker comparison - This talk will present ways in which statistical modelling can be used to evaluate the evidential value of voice recordings such as those occurring in hoax phone calls, calls related to extortion, fraud cases, or involving abuse or threats. Examples of how vocal features extracted from such recordings can be modelled to provide a measure of the strength of evidence will be presented, followed by a discussion of opportunities and challenges in this field in the era of big data.
  • Twitter: Join the discussion and post questions using the hashtag #RSSGlaLaw
  • Registration: You can register to attend in person or via livestream using the button below. Livestream attendees will be contacted via email with a link and participation details 24 hours prior to the event.

Past events


David Hand, author of The Improbability Principle

Wednesday 14th December - The Improbability Principle: Why Coincidences, Miracles, and Rare Events Happen Every Day
  • Speaker: Professor David Hand, Imperial College London
  • Time: 17:30-18:30. Preceded briefly by RSS Glasgow Group AGM, and followed by drinks and mince pies.
  • Place: Room LT908, Livingstone Tower, University of Strathclyde, G1 1HX.
  • Summary:Coincidences happen, incredibly unlikely things occur, and the apparently miraculous comes about. The improbability principle says that extraordinarily improbable events are commonplace. It shows that this is not a contradiction, but that we should expect identical lottery numbers to come up, lightning to strike twice, to meet strangers with our name, financial crashes to occur, and ESP experiments to produce positive results. All of these and more are straightforward consequences of the five solid mathematical laws constituting the improbability principle.
  • Twitter: Join the discussion and post questions using the hashtag #RSSGlaMiracles

Thursday 6th October
- Statistical Ecology seminar double bill

Jointly hosted with the
RSS Environmental Statistics Section and the Boyd Orr Centre for Population and Ecosystem Health
  • Speakers:
    • Ruth King, Thomas Bayes' Chair of Statistics at the University of Edinburgh.
    • Diana Cole, Senior Lecturer in Statistics at the University of Kent.
  • Time: 17:30-18:30, followed by drinks and nibbles.
  • Place: Main Lecture Theatre (LT1), Graham Kerr Building, University of Glasgow, University Avenue, Glasgow G12 8QQ (map).
  • Summaries:
    • Ruth King: Recent advances in the analysis of multi-state capture-recapture data.  Capture-recapture data are commonly collected on wildlife populations. The exact form of the data collection process and modeling assumptions permits different demographic parameters of interest to be estimated. In this talk we will focus on multi-state capture-r
      From: A review of Bayesian state-space modelling of capture–recapture–recovery data by Ruth King
      ecapture data, where individuals may be recorded as being in different discrete states when they are observed. For example, this may relate to location, disease status, breeding status etc.  We will show how these, often fairly complex, capture-recapture models can be expressed in the form of a general (partially observed) hidden Markov model (HMM). This permits a generalized framework for a range of different models, including likelihood formulation and associated model fitting techniques. Real examples will be used to demonstrate the different models.
    • Diana Cole: Parameter Redundancy and Identifiability in Ecological Models.  To be able to fit or examine a parametric model successfully all the parameters need to be identifiable. If the parameters are non-identifiable the model can be rewritten in terms of a smaller set of parameters, and is termed parameter redundant. Parameter redundancy is not always obvious, in which case the definitive method for detecting parameter redundancy involves calculating the rank of a matrix, which is expressed symbolically. Although numeric
      methods also exist, these can lead to the wrong conclusion.
       Models used in ecology are becoming more realistic but at the same time more complex. This poses a problem for this symbolic method as computers run out of memory calculating the rank of the appropriate matrix. An extended symbolic method exists but this is mathematically complicated.  An alternative solution is a hybrid-symbolic numeric method. This method combines symbolic and numeric methods to create an algorithm that is extremely accurate compared to other numeric methods but is also more straightforward to use. We demonstrate the advantages of this method and show how it can be used in ecological models, such as capture-recapture models.
  • Twitter: Join the discussion and post questions using the hashtag #RSSGlaEco

  • Meeting report
    Glasgow Science Festival
  • Statistical experts Jennifer Rogers and Liberty Vittert describe how to think mathematically about chance and risk and how to unpick causality from noisy data in real life settings.  This is a two-hour lecture aimed at senior secondary school pupils (S5 - S6), hosted jointly by Glasgow University and the Glasgow local group of the Royal Statistical Society as part of the 2016 Glasgow Science Festival.
  • Time & place: 10:00-12:00, Wednesday 15th June at the Wolfson Medical School Building, University of Glasgow, University Avenue, Glasgow G12 8QQ.
  • Summaries:
    • Dr Liberty Vittert: How to win the lottery and get away with murder.  Statistics plays an incredible role in our everyday lives, you just don't know about it. From murder trials, to the lottery winner, to chances of survival with cancer, statistics and probability is in everything. Dr. Liberty Vittert is currently serving as the Mitchell Lecturer at the University of Glasgow. She has become a TV regular, both as The American Cook (making American-style cuisine with a bit of a mathematical twist), and as an expert statistician detailing the probabilities of certain event occurring such as the recent $1.6 billion Powerball. Come find out how statistics and probability determines just about everything.
    • Dr Jennifer Rogers: Yeah, but is it significant?  You've just tossed a coin ten times and eight of them were heads.  Sunderland win their next five games of the Premiership season.  In clinical trials for a new treatment for chronic headaches, 40% get better within 24 hours.  But so what, sometimes these things happen just by chance, right?  As a statistician, it is my job to decide whether any differences I see in data are likely to be just by chance, or whether they are 'statistically significant'.  But how much evidence do you need before you can say that what you see is significant and how do you untangle causality from chance?  Dr. Jennifer Rogers is a research fellow in the Department of Statistics at Oxford University with interests in statistical methodology and applications in health care.  In 2014 she was elected the Royal Statistical Society Guy Lecturer, and can now be regularly found presenting in schools, pubs and on stage.

Monday 25th & Wednesday 27th April - two seminars by Hadley Wickham at the University of Glasgow:

Hadley Wickham is one of the most active and influential R developers in the world, and these talks should interest any serious R user. They are organised by the School of Mathematics and Statistics, not the RSS Glasgow Local Group.

Thursday 28th April - Multivariate Models, Probabilities of Ruin & League Tables; so, are you paying too much for your Car Insurance?
Jointly hosted with the Scottish Branch of the
Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA)
  • Japanese car accident by Shuets Udono - Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons -
    Speaker: John Birkenhead, is an independent consulting actuary. The winner of the 2015 Finance Monthly Global Awards for UK Actuarial Services, he specialises in the quantification and communication of risk. He is a STEM Ambassador, a Careers Ambassador for the Actuarial Profession and is a sought-after speaker at schools for enthusing careers in maths. 
  • Time: 17:30-18:30, followed by drinks and nibbles.
  • Place: Room LT908, Livingstone Tower, University of Strathclyde, G1 1XH (map).
  • Summary: I’m sure we’ve all had a bit of a groan when we receive our car insurance renewal premiums; typical questions which arise are:
    • “How can the premium be so high when I’ve never had an accident?”
    • “Why has the premium gone up when I have one more year’s no claims discount?”
    • “Why won’t my current insurer price-match the cheapest quote I can obtain? I’m a good risk!”
    • “I’ve had no claims this year, can I have my premium back?”
    • “I’ve just obtained three penalty points for speeding but my renewal premium has gone down. Surely this is a mistake?”
    It’s not always as cut and dried as you might think and this talk will explain what is going on! We will examine the theoretical statistical basis of risk (multivariate probability distributions), EU regulations concerning theoretical “probabilities of ruin”, theoretical “customer lifetime value” models as well as seeing the theories in action with some realtime examples from price comparison websites. We will also look at forward pricing, statistical quirks in the data and some pricing anomalies, all explainable from the theoretical considerations.
    So, are you paying too much for your car insurance? Come and listen to the evidence for and against, given by an experienced and independent actuary (and car insurer payer!) deeply involved in insurer pricing, solvency and regulatory management of insurers and draw your own conclusion!
  • Twitter: Join the discussion and post questions using the hashtag #RSSGlaPremium.

Tuesday 9th February - Statistics: a Data Science for the 21st Century
Peter Diggle
  • Meeting report
  • Speaker: Peter Diggle, President of the Royal Statistical Society (here's an interview with Prof Diggle, where he discusses his career and his vision for the RSS under his presidency).
  • Summary: The rise of data science could be seen as a potential threat to the long-term status of the statistics discipline. I first argue that, although there is a threat, there is also a much greater opportunity to re-emphasize the universal relevance of statistical methods to the interpretation of data, and I give a short historical outline of the increasingly important links between statistics and information technology. The core of the paper is a summary of several recent research projects, through which I hope to demonstrate that statistics makes an essential, but incomplete, contribution to the emerging field of ‘electronic health’ research. Finally, I offer personal thoughts on how statistics might best be organized in a research-led university, on what we should teach our students and on some issues broadly related to data science where the Royal Statistical Society can take a lead.
  • Time: 15.00-16.00, followed by wine reception. This event is free. Members and non-members welcome.
  • Place: Room LT908, Livingstone Tower, University of Strathclyde, G1 1XH (map).
  • Twitter: Join the discussion and post questions using the hashtag #RSSGlaPres.


Wednesday 9th December - The Fate of the Franklin Expedition: Statistical Insights

Sir John Franklin dying by his boat. Photograph: © National Maritime Museum, London
  • Meeting report
  • SpeakersProf Keith Millar (Honorary Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Health & Wellbeing, University of Glasgow), Prof Adrian Bowman (School of Mathematics & Statistics, University of Glasgow) & William Battersby (archaeologist and author)
  • Time: 17:30-18:30. Preceded briefly by RSS Glasgow Group AGM, and followed by drinks and mince pies.
  • Place: Room 203, Maths Building, University of Glasgow, G12 8QW (map).
  • Summary: In 1845, with Queen Victoria on the throne and the British Empire in full flight, Sir John Franklin led an expedition to find a 'North-West Passage' from the Atlantic to the Pacific through the Arctic seas off northern Canada.  All communication with the expedition was lost and one of the largest ever search-and-rescue operations was launched.  This spanned a period of 11 years, after which it became clear that all 129 crew of the Franklin expedition had lost their lives in the grimmest of circumstances.  This is a story which has captured the imaginations of subsequent generations, with interest recently heightened through the discovery of the remains of one of the ships, the HMS Erebus, in shallow waters near King William Island.  This talk will examine data from the sick lists of the ships which went in search of the Franklin expedition to provide insight into life aboard a Victorian vessel.  It will also discuss the analysis of recent data from the crew's remains to examine the popular theory that lead poisoning played a significant role in the failure of the expedition.
  • Further reading: articles about the mystery surrounding the fate of the Franklin Expedition disaster, from Significance magazine, the University of Glasgow and the Guardian.
  • Twitter: Join the discussion and post questions using the hashtag #RSSGlaFranklin.

Tuesday 20th October was World Statistics Day
World Statistics Day was instituted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2010 to recognize the importance of statistics in shaping our societies. Find out more here:

World Statistics Day

Wednesday 7th October - Concepts and methods in causal mediation analysis
Jointly hosted with the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow
Bianca DeStavola

  • Meeting report
  • Speakers: Bianca DeStavola (Professor of Biostatistics & Co-Director of the LSHTM Centre for Statistical Methodology) & Rhian Daniel (Lecturer) from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
  • Time: 13:30-16:30.
  • Place: Ben Cruachan seminar room, MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow, top floor, Herald Building, 200 Renfield Street, Glasgow, G2 3QB (map).Rhian Daniel
  • Summary: The aim of many research areas may involve the study of how the effect of a particular exposure on the outcome of interest is mediated by intermediate factors. Although the study of mediation is well established in the social and behavioural sciences, and often loosely attempted in epidemiology, developments in modern causal inference have highlighted the limitations of these 'classical' approaches and led to new definitions based on counterfactuals and novel estimation methods that deal with specific challenges such as intermediate confounding. In this workshop we will present and compare these two approaches and stress the greater rigour and generality permitted by the potential outcomes framework.

Monday 22nd June
The Performance of the Polls in the 2015 UK General Election
  • Meeting report
  • Speaker: John Curtice is Professor of Politics at the University of Strathclyde and "the doyen of political polling" (Financial Times). He writes a blog providing observations and analysis on the state of public opinion in Scotland.
  • Time: 17:30-18:30, followed by drinks and nibbles.
  • Place: Room LT908, Livingstone Tower, University of Strathclyde, G1 1XH (map).
  • Summary: The 2015 election looks as though it will join the 1970 and 1992 contests as elections when the polls were perceived to have got it ‘wrong’.  Although on average the polls were no more than a percentage point adrift in their estimates of support for the smaller parties, they suggested that Labour and the Conservatives were in a dead heat when, in practice, the Conservatives proved to be nearly seven points ahead. Only when the results of the BBC/ITV/Sky exit poll were released did the first intimation come that in fact the Conservatives were well head. In this talk Prof. Curtice will describe how the polls were conducted and assess some of the possible reasons why they overestimated Labour and underestimated Conservative support.
  • Prof. Curtice is giving this talk in a personal capacity, and not in his role as President of the British Polling Council.
  • Join the discussion and post questions for Prof. Curtice on twitter via the hashtag #RSSGlaPolls.

Thursday 23rd April
- RSS Glasgow/
ORGS/YSS joint event: Visualising data: a statistician's journey. [link to slides]

*** NB this event can be attended online ***
  • Meeting report
  • Speaker: Robert Grant, senior lecturer in health and social care statistics, Kingston University and St George's (Medical School), University of London.
  • Time: 17:00-18:00, followed by drinks and nibbles.
  • Place:
    • Attend in person at room LT908, Livingstone Tower, University of Strathclyde, G1 1XH (map), or...
    • Join the Webinar. Update: follow the event on twitter and join the post-seminar questions using the hashtag #gladataviz.
  • Summary: The last few years have seen an explosion of innovative data visualisations, particularly those that are interactive and delivered online. These have the potential to make our work have much greater impact but are a mystery to most statisticians. I will describe how I learned about these: how to design them and how to make them. I will reflect on the differences between the worlds of data and design, and present some current experiments in representing uncertainty in more intuitive ways for a lay audience.

Animated graph by Robert Grant

Thursday 26th February: Health Freaks on Trial

  • Place: Room 203, Maths Building, University of Glasgow, G12 8QW (map).
  • Summary: In 2013, Channel 4 broadcast Health Freaks”, a series of six programmes on some
    rather bizarre home remedies.  Martin was advisor and statistical analyst for four clinical trials in this series.  He will talk about how this came about, describe each of the trials, their sometimes surprising results and how they were presented, and his seconds of televisual fame.


  • Thursday 11th December - RSS Glasgow/ORGS joint event: A statistical excursion in the isochronic hills
    • Meeting report
    • Speaker: Phil Scarf, University of Salford
      The OR group of Scotland
    • Time: 17:00-18:00 ***Note later time than originally advertised*** Preceded briefly by RSS Glasgow Group AGM, and followed by drinks reception and nibbles.
    • Place: Room LT908, Livingstone Tower, University of Strathclyde, G1 1XH (map).
    • Summary: The adventure racer, when competing in mountain navigation events, is often faced with an over-or-around route choice. Is it quicker to go over or around a hill when trying to get from a point A, on one side, to a point B, on the other? Route choice aesthetics are of no interest. The competitor wishes to get from A to B as efficiently as possible. Naismith's rule can be used i
      Hills, real and isochronic
      n these circumstances. This rule relates climb to distance, and implies that, in terms of time taken, 1 unit of distance vertically is equivalent to N units of distance
      horizontally. Naismith in his original paper in 1892 in the Scottish Mountaineering Club journal implied that N=7.92. Now, if a route (from A to B) comprises a horizontal distance component of x units and a
      vertical distance component of y units, then x+Ny  is the equivalent distance of the route. Given a choice between routes, the competitor should then ceteris paribus choose that route with minimum equivalent distance. This talk will consider a number of questions in this context:
      • What are the origins of Naismith's rule?
      • What is the connection between the rule, the treadmill crane at Harwich, and the Scottish Mathematician MacLaurin?
      • What is the fastest mile ever run?
      • Can N be estimated from data?
      • Does N vary with age, that is, do veteran runners find ascent relatively more difficult, and therefore should they be more inclined to go around?
      • If the over and around routes between points on opposites sides of a simply shaped hill are equivalent, is there a quicker route in between?
      • What is the shape of an isochronic hill?
      • Is the rule applicable to cycling?

  • Thursday 13th November: Monitoring school performance: A multilevel value-added modelling alternative to England’s ‘expected progress’ measure
    • Meeting Report
    • Speaker: George Leckie, Centre for Multilevel Modelling, University of Bristol
    • Summary: Since 1992, the UK Government has published so-called ‘school league tables’ summarizing the average educational attainment and progress made by pupils in each state-funded secondary school in England. In 2011 the Government made ‘expected progress’ their new headline measure of school progress. The purpose of this paper is to analyse the data underlying the Government’s 2013 tables, in order to statistically critique expected progress and contrast it with the
      multilevel ‘value-added’ modelling approach.
    • Time: 5.30-6.30 pm, followed by drinks and nibbles.
    • Place: Ben Cruachan seminar room, MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow, top floor, Herald Building, 200 Renfield Street, Glasgow, G2 3QB (map).

  • Friday 12th September: Quantifying the impact of air pollution on health. A workshop aiming to  bring together academics, policymakers and other interested parties to discuss this important public health issue.
    • Speakers, timetable, directions and other information available at Slides available [link
    • Time: 12:45-16:45
    • Place: ***New venue due to high demand*** Hugh Fraser Seminar Room 2, Wolfson Medical Building, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ (C8 on campus map).

  • Tuesday 17th June: The Power of Administrative Data
    • Meeting report
    • Speaker: Stephen Pavis
    • Summary: Scotland has some of the best administrative data in the world (e.g. health, social care, housing, education and criminal justice). However, these data are not being fully exploited: to ensure our social policies are designed to respond to multiple disadvantage; our public services are as efficient as possible; and that these data are mobilised to support economic growth.  This lecture will explore some of the reasons for the under-utilisation of administrative data and chart some of the new initiatives which aim to release these data's potential.
    • Time: 17.30-18:30, followed by drinks and nibbles
    • Place: Room 203, Maths Building, University of Glasgow, G12 8QW (map).

  • Monday 12th May: Glasgow 2014: Legacy and the Host Community
    • Speakers: Ade Kearns and Julie Clark of the University of Glasgow.

    • Summary: The GoWell East study aims to consider the effects that regeneration and the Commonwealth Games 2014 might have upon the quality of life and health and wellbeing of residents living in the six communities nearest to the main Games sites in the East End of Glasgow.  This talk will describe the approach we are using to do this, within the three broad legacy domains of economic impact, sports participation and physicalNew GoWell Logo 300dpi activity, and sustainability.  Broadly, the methods comprise: a longitudinal survey of an adult resident cohort; a longitudinal survey of a pupil cohort; stakeholder interviews and workshop; qualitative interviews with residents; and an ecological study of secondary data on the physical, economic and social environments.  At present, we are conducting a prospective assessment of the potential for intervention impacts within and upon the study area, and the framework used for this will be explained.
    • Time: 15.00-16.00, followed by drinks and nibbles.
    • Place: Room 203, Maths Building, University of Glasgow, G12 8QW (map).

  • Friday 31 January - Seminar: Statistics making an impact
    • Read the article "Statistics making an Impact"
    • Summary: John Pullinger, President of the Royal Statistical Society will give a reprise of his presidential lecture.  He will explore how the role of statistics in society has changed with changes in the politics of decision-making.  He will outline the Royal Statistical Society strategy for the next 4 years and consider how individual members of the RSS can play a part.
    • Time: 15.00-16.00, followed by wine reception.This event is free and open to all. Non-members welcome.
    • Place: Room LT908, Livingstone Tower, University of Strathclyde, G1 1XH (map)


  • Tuesday 17 December 2013 - Seminar: Public Engagement: Some Perspectives from Statistics and Public Health. Followed by RSS Glasgow Group AGM.
    • Speakers:
    • Summary: Engaging the public with our research and work is challenging. We have created 3 activities and trialled them with members of the public (aged 7-70) at the Glasgow Science Centre. We will discuss how we developed these activities (Inequalities in Mortality Mountain Plot Jigsaw; Design a Healthy Lifestyle app; Health in the City Game) and then you will have the opportunity to try the activities.
    • Time:
      • AGM: 17:15–17:20
      • Seminar: 17:20-18:15
    • Place: Room LT908, Livingstone Tower, University of Strathclyde (corner of Richmond St & North Portland St; nearest subway Buchanan Street; map)
    • Followed by wine, nibbles and mince pies. Event is free and open to all, in particular non-members.

            This event is part of the International Year of Statistics (Statistics2013).

  • 14 October 2013 - Meeting: Expert Judgement. Joint meeting hosted by the Glasgow Local Group of the Royal Statistical Society and the Operational Research Group of Scotland at the University of Strathclyde.

        This event is part of the International Year of Statistics (Statistics2013).

  • 25 June 2013 - RSS/GSSG Seminar: White Flight & Social Segregation. This seminar is jointly funded by the Royal Statistical Society Glasgow Local Group, AQMEN/Glasgow Social Statistics Group and the School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Glasgow.

    • Speakers:

      • 14.00: Dr Richard Harris (University of Bristol). Motion Charts, White Flight and Ethnic Cliffs? Ethno-demographic change in the 2011 Census. Discussant: Prof Gwilym Pryce

      • 15.15: Prof Gwilym Pryce (University of Glasgow). Future Directions in Segregation Research: An Overview of a Major New Research Programme. Discussant: Dr Richard Harris

    • Time: 14:00-16:00 on Tuesday 25 June 2013.

    • Place: Room 916, Adam Smith Building, University of Glasgow

    • Time: 15:00-16:30 on Thursday 23 May 2013

    • Place: Room 203, Maths Building, University of Glasgow, G12 8QW (map).

Paul Johnson,
Mar 14, 2014, 3:57 PM