Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics
University of California, Los Angeles

Data Visualization and its Role in the Practice of Statistics

The Second Annual Undergraduate
Summer Program in Statistics

June 17-24, 2006

Applications due: April 21, 2006 (updated)

Printable flyer ]


Mark Hansen (UCLA)
Vijay Nair (UM)
Deborah Nolan (UCB)
Doug Nychka (NCAR)
Duncan Temple Lang (UCD)
Bin Yu (UCB)

The first Summer Statistics Program was held in 2005. Read a complete summary of the event.

Statistics: The Science of Data
Today, almost every aspect of our lives is "rendered" in data. New data collection technologies have made it easy to record continuous, high-resolution measurements of our physical environment (weather patterns, seismic events, the human genome). We're also constantly monitoring our movements through and interactions with our physical surroundings (automobile and air traffic, large-scale land use, advanced manufacturing facilities). In computer-mediated settings, our activities either depend crucially on or consist entirely of complex digital data (networked games, peer-to-peer technologies, Web site and Internet usage).

As a reflection of the diversity and variety of the "systems" under study, these data-based descriptions of our world tend to be massive in size, dynamic in character, and replete with rich structures. The advent of these enormous repositories of information presents us with an interesting challenge: how can we represent and interpret such complex, abstract and often socially important data?

The role of visualization
The theme of our Summer Program is visualization and its role in the practice of statistics. Visualization and statistical graphics are at the core of exploratory data analysis, and in turn shape how we think about a particular application, the models we entertain and the kinds of theory we propose. Over the course of our seven day program, we will highlight a number of statistical applications, and with each we will consider novel approaches to visualization that help guide our insight about the underlying statistical questions. Through computer lab sessions that draw on each day's application, students will receive a basic introduction to statistical computing, providing them with the skills to perform simple data manipulations, conduct exploratory analyses and create informative visualizations.

The program

The seven day workshop is designed so that students get a sense of how statisticians approach large, complex problems. Several different topics will be presented over the course of the week. So far, the topics include

  • Bioinformatics and neuroscience
  • Text and document analysis
  • Environmental statistics
  • Earth and space science
Statisticians on hand will come from UC Berkeley, UCLA, Stanford, UC Davis, Rutgers University, Carnegie Mellon University, Bell Laboratories, and AT&T Labs.

Importantly, students will also get a chance to work with some of the data. In the process, students will gain a basic understaning of computing and visualization tools.

Join us!

Students will receive a grant to cover their travel expenses to attend the workshop as well as full room and board at the Doubletree Hotel in Westwood. Meetings will take place in the Mathematical Sciences Building on the UCLA Campus.

Our short proram is geared toward undergraduates who are sophomores or juniors in the 2005-2006 academic year. They are expected to have some basic quantitative skills, including a background in calculus. A beginning course in probability and/or statistics would be helpful, but is not required. Quantitatively-inclined undergraduates majoring in engineering, computer science, physics, biology, mathematics, statistics and the behavioral or social sciences are all encouraged to apply. Given space constraints, we can admit only 25 students.

Completed application forms are due April 21, 2006 and should include the following:

  • A completed application form
  • A 1-2 page statement of interest
  • A letter of recommendation from the instructor of a quantitatively-oriented course in which the student was enrolled
  • A transcript (unofficial is acceptable)
Forms can be submitted electronically to Please direct any questions about the program to this email address as well.