**The World Congress
in Probability and Statistics**
Last year, the
latest World Congress in Probability and Statistics was
held in Istanbul, Turkey. This was the 8th World
Congress in Probability and Statistics. Held every four
years, the meeting is a worldwide event covering all
branches of statistics and probability. This includes
insurance, theoretical, methodological, applied and computational
statistics and probability, as well as stochastic
processes. The latest scientific developments in all of
these fields is showcased.
The World Congress is overseen by members of the
Bernoulli Society and the Institute of Mathematical
Statistics. The two organizations joined forces, and
their combined meetings comprise the World Congress in
Probability and Statistics. The first of these meetings
was the 7th World Congress, which took place in
Singapore in 2008.
Each meeting of the World Congress covers a wide range
of topics in statistics and probability. Recent
developments in all of the aforementioned fields are
discussed. Special lecture series document a variety of
modern research topics with in-depth uses and
applications of these disciplines to other fields in the
sciences, industrial innovation, and society as a whole.
The meeting always features several special plenary
lectures presented by leading specialists in their
respective fields. In addition, many invited sessions
discuss topics of current research interests. Posters
and videos also take part in the World Congress in
Probability and Statistics.
The membership criteria for the Program Committee is
highly competitive. The Program Chair convenes with
previous heads of the Congress to choose highly
qualified and respected members of the two committees.
Twenty one members comprise the elite Program Committee.
Their job is to shape the program of the World Congress
for its meeting every four years. It could take two plus
years to complete such a task. Various subcommittees are
also appointed to gather speakers for lecture series
during the five-day meeting. Members of the
subcommittees are also appointed by the Program Chair.
The goal of the World Congress in Probability and
Statistics is to convene with the greatest minds in the
field to discuss the scientifical know-how of the day.
Every branch of probability and statistics is discussed,
as well as new, interesting applications in the fields.
Scientists gather to discuss the goings-on in hopes of
expanding upon their own research. Overall, the program
is meant to expound upon the scientific knowledge of the
day, creating a better future for mankind.
**What is Probability?**
In its simplest form, probability is
the likelihood that a given event will occur - which is
of course the basis for all insurance calculations. It can be
expressed in mathematical terms as a percentage or as a
ratio of the number of desired or target outcomes over
the total number of possible outcomes. An easy example
is tossing a coin. There are two possible outcomes of a
coin toss--heads or tails. The likelihood or probability
of tossing heads is 1/2 or 50%. When rolling a die,
there are six possible outcomes; the probability of
rolling a particular number, say, 3, is 1/6 or 16.6%.
What is the probability of drawing the ace of spades
from a pack of playing cards? There are 52 cards in a
standard deck, so the probability of drawing the ace of
spades is 1/52 or 0.019%. How about the probability of
drawing ANY spade? There are 13 spades in a deck, so the
probability is 13/52 or 1/4: 25%.
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So far, it's not too complicated. The examples given so
far are single events. Probability becomes more
complicated when calculating the likelihood of a series
of events. In a series of events a distinction must be
made whether successive events are independent or
dependent. In a series of coin tosses, the events are
independent; each toss has no effect on any other, so
the probability of any one toss coming up tails is still
1/2. When drawing cards from a deck, however, subsequent
draws are dependent on the results of the earlier ones;
that's because the number of target and total outcomes
changes with each draw. The likelihood that the first
card drawn will be a spade is 13/52. If it IS a spade,
the likelihood that the next card will be a spade is
12/51; one card has been drawn so the total of possible
outcomes is now 51, and since it was a spade there are
12 spades left. If the first draw is not a spade, the
chance of drawing a spade on the second draw is 13/51;
the first draw reduced the total possible outcomes to
51, but all 13 of the spades are still in the deck.
Once you have determined the probability of each target
event, the probability of specific events happening
together is obtained by multiplying the probabilities of
the individual events. When tossing a coin, the
probability of any single toss coming up heads is 1/2;
the probability of two tosses both being heads is 1/2 x
1/2 = 1/4. The probability of 5 consecutive tosses all
being heads is 1/2 x 1/2 x 1/2 x 1/2 x 1/2 = 1/64 or
0.03125, just over 3%. The probability of drawing five
spades from a deck of cards is 13/52 x 12/51 x 11/50 x
10/49/ x 9/48 = 0.25 x 0.235 x 0.22 x 0.204 x 0.1875 =
0.000494 or about five-hundredths of a percent.
The concepts of probability aren't difficult to
understand, but the math involved in calculating
probability can be complex. The examples we have looked
at are simple ones involving small numbers of possible
outcomes. When the number of possible outcomes
increases, the calculations get complicated.
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