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Monday 18 July 2016

Annual Report to Stakeholders 2015-16

As a grad student, I had to submit an annual report on my academic activities and the progress I was making in the PhD.

This year, I neglected to submit one, but since it's a good exercise in perspective, I’m doing a more general one here for myself and the major stakeholders in my life.

Executive Summary (informally, the ‘TL;DR’): 

The two most important things of this year were meeting Gabriela and defending my PhD thesis. Both of those successes owe a great deal to the development and effort of the previous years than anything particular I did this year.


This year I enjoyed a lot more success in making personal connections than professional progress; a year and a day ago I met Gabriela and we are very much in love. This may seem sappy and out of place in an annual report, but this is a life report and it’s easy to understate these sort of things because they’re difficult to quantify. Gabi is  extremely important to me, and she deserves to be mentioned here. Establishing a relationship of this quality takes a lot of effort, but it has been tremendously rewarding.

Education (Learning):

They say completing a doctorate is a marathon, not a sprint. If that’s true, mine felt like the Boston Marathon; some parts crossed the finish line a lot sooner than others. The spirit of the thesis was done a year ago - written, submitted, and with a defense scheduled. This year, I added a new short chapter, and added a new layer of proofreading to the old chapters, but that’s it. While writing this extra chapter, which was an application of my new method to a database, I learned enough about the Canadian legal system to spark an appetite for more (so, very little).

For projects and curiosity, I’ve learned about meta-analysis, validation, item response theory, web-crawling, copy editing, and an introductory amount about the statistical method INLA.  

Duolingo says I’m now about 20% fluent in Portuguese. In the near-term future, I hope to push that higher at a rate of 10% per month.

In the short/mid-term, I hope to gain more depth in using SAS (and take more SAS certification exams to solidify this), and to learn more about the law (and to take the LSAT, likewise).

Education (Teaching):

In the spring I lectured Stat 302 to about 300 students. I’ve already talked about this in detail in my postmortem. Student evaluations rated my teaching higher than both the school and faculty average in almost every category. Also, I got applause, so 2/2 there.

Only 10-20% of the material was able to be recycled from Stat 203 and from other notes. However, that means a LOT of new notes and assignments and assignments were added to my personal corpus of notes.

One of the two courses I’m teaching in the fall, Stat 305, will recycle 50% of its material from 302 and 203. Of the other half, I already have the notes of five lectures completed.

I also have been doing some assignment design for a 400-level course on big data methods that Luke Bornn is teaching in the fall, and I did a guest lecture for the 400-level Statistics of Sport course.


Lots of little scattered things. 

Harsha, Tim, and I wrote another cricket paper. Rajitha, Tim, and I wrote a hockey paper. Kurt Routley (in Computer Science) and I co-presented a talk on data mining in hockey. A health sciences paper linking depression and sexually risky behaviour in South Africa was published after years of delay.

Not really shown in the thesis was the additional development of the Approximate Bayesian Computation work that Steve Thompson and I made in the last year. Very recently we got some coveted data from the CDC that we can use to revive some analyses from 2014-5.

I’ll be presenting some hockey research on the overtime loss rule at the Cascadia Sports Conference in Vancouver in September, and Paramjit and I will be reviving a old paper on this with some new depth.

I’ve met with at least five other groups about other research projects all across the board, but without any deliverables that I can mention here.


4 papers were refereed: 3 for the Open Journal of Statistics, 1 for the Canadian Journal of Statistics. 

6 papers were copy-edited: 3 for networking purposes, 1 that did the analysis for as well, 1 at the request of a faculty member, and 1 as a skill test for the Canadian Journal of Statistics.

26 blog posts were made and kept, not including this one.

Game Design:

I haven’t posted the details here, but a very basic (pre-alpha) working prototype of Scrabble Dungeon on PC. A player place tiles in a crossword grid from a designated starting tile to an ending point in order to win the game. Wall tiles, pre-placed tiles, and gem pickups are functioning. Boards of any layout and size can be loaded into the game that contain these elements. Parts of the card system are working, and two of the cards (life relic and meta relic) are included.

The goal is to eventually get the game onto the Android Play Store, but I may also settle for a PC version if it’s less of a headache. 

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