Statistics in the 21st Century

Images, matrices, functions, trajectories, trees, or graphs are examples of objects arising in modern data analysis. The importance of such novel data types in statistics, as well as the importance of geometry and computing in their analysis cannot be overstated. This RTG training grant is addressing these challenges through hands-on training, mentoring, and workshops.  The RTG program serves undergraduate students, graduate students, and post-docs


Statistical analysis of object-data requires skills and knowledge that are not (yet) part of a standard training of a statistician. This includes data handling skills, such as accessing web services, or manipulating data formats; skills needed for working in a multi-disciplinary scientific environment, including the ability to understand the scientific context the data arose from; and also more mathematical skills, including notions of geometry, shape or topology, and the understanding of their role in the development and the analysis of corresponding statistical methodology. The training offered by the RTG addresses all these issues. On the one hand this is preparing participants for more advanced studies and research activities in Statistics and the mathematical sciences in general, and on the other hand, these training activities will also enhance the professional development of trainees.

The training itself consists of a blend of data analysis applied to real scientific questions, exposure to research in new methodologies, relevant mathematical theories, and computing.

Through a natural feedback mechanism this training program is expected to also lead to new approaches and ideas for strengthening the training of statisticians at various levels. Resources and tools for a modern training in statistics will be developed and will be broadly disseminated to the community.

The general goals of the RTG can be summarized as follows:

  • Train and prepare undergraduate students, graduate students and postdoctoral researchers at UC Davis to conduct research in the mathematical sciences, in particular in areas of Statistics involving objects, geometry and shape.
  • Provide a model for a modern education in Statistics via a comprehensive training from data handling, data analysis and methodology to theory by utilizing real data and real modern scientific challenges at all levels.
  • Increase the number of undergraduate majors in Statistics at UC Davis, to enhance their professional development, and to increase the percentage of those who enter graduate school.
  • Increase the overall number of underrepresented minorities and female domestic students in Statistics at UC Davis.
  • Increase the awareness and appreciation of the overall importance of statistical sciences among undergraduate and graduate students.

The specific statistical research topics of the training sessions are naturally guided by the interests of the RTG members. The following are instances of relevant topic areas:

  • Visualization, dynamics and manifolds for complex data with applications in medical and biological image analysis, and in finance and economics;
  • Trees, Graphs, and Shape Statistics such as filaments, level sets, and observed shapes such as animal tracks;

Other activities of the RTG include:

  • a yearly RTG conference
  • a biweekly student run seminar series
  • training in mentoring and teaching
  • periodic sessions on
    • scientific writing
    • oral presentation
    • grant writing and job applications (for graduate students and postdocs)
    • applying to graduate school (for undergraduate students)