March 27, 2017

April 21-24, 2015
Workshop on Complex Spatio-temporal Data Structures:
Methods and applications

Fields Institute, 222 College St., Toronto

Patrick Brown and Jamie Stafford, University of Toronto

This four day workshop will bring together statistical methodologists and applied statisticians with a variety of expertise and research areas but with a common interest in complex and non-standard spatio-temporal problems. 'Complex' data includes that which is observed irregularly or in an unbalanced fashion, aggregated spatially to arbitrary and variable regions, and/or exhibiting hierarchical but non-nested correlations. Distributions and likelihoods for such data often depend on the behaviour of the underlying process throughout it's entire spatial extent and not only at the locations where data are observed. The high dimensionality of the resulting problem requires inference methodologies exhibiting a combination of model simplifications, approximations of estimators and likelihood functions, and/or computational and algorithmic efficiencies. Unlike many other 'big data' problems, however, an understanding of the physical properties of the spatio-temporal process in question often enables many simplifying assumptions to be made which lead to convenient and enabling mathematical properties (i.e.Markov property, stationarity, various forms of conditional independence).

Examples of statistical applications covered will include:

  • Spatial epidemiology: inference on variations in disease risk in space and time using complex forms of case incidence data
  • Forestry: inference on forest fire ignitions with location data subject to aggregation and censoring
  • Fisheries: inference on species abundance from ocean surveys and catch data

Related areas of statistical methodology include:

  • Bayesian inference for parametric models
  • Non-parametrics and smoothing
  • Functional data analysis
  • Statistical computing


The workshop will be structured to maximize the amount of interaction amongst the attendees, and aims to encourage problem solving, identification of open problems, and matching of emerging methods development to relevant areas of applied statistics research. Each day will involve two or three 45-minute talks, each followed up by a pre-arranged discussant and ample time for general questions and comments. Talks will include overviews on statistical issues in substantive applied areas (public health, forestry, fisheries), and recent methods developments. The remainder of the conference will involve a number of shorter presentations, panel discussions, and breakout groups.



Workshop will run from the morning of Tuesday, April 21 to the afternoon of Friday, April 24.

First scientific session: 10.30am Tuesday 21 April
Drinks reception: 6.30pm Tuesday 21 April
Banquet: 7pm Thursday 23 April
End of final session: 3.30pm Friday 24 April


Confirmed speakers

  • Peter Craigmile Ohio State University
  • Lance Waller Emory University
  • Daniel Simpson University of Warwick
  • Michael Stein University of Chicago
  • Benjamin Taylor Lancaster University

Discussants and other contributors

  • John Braun University of British Columbia Okanagan
  • Patrick Brown University of Toronto and Cancer Care Ontario
  • Noel Cadigan Memorial University
  • Charmaine Dean Western University
  • Thierry Duchesne l'Universit Laval
  • Chris Field Dalhousie University
  • Joan Hu Simon Fraser University
  • Farouk Nathoo University of Victoria
  • Joanna Mills Flemming Dalhousie Univeristy
  • Duncan Murdoch Western University
  • Jamie Stafford University of Toronto
  • Mahmouid Torabi University of Manitoba
  • Douglas Woolford Wilfrid Laurier University

Confirmed Participants as of April 9:
*Pending Confirmation

Full Name University/Affiliation
  Aeberhard, William Dalhousie University
  Albert-Green, Alisha University of Western Ontario
* Banterle, Marco Université Paris Dauphine
  Berke, Olaf University of Guelph
  Braun, John University of British Columbia
  Brown, Patrick Cancer Care Ontario
  Cadigan, Noel Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland
  Chin, Andrew University of Toronto
  Craigmile, Peter Ohio State University
* Davison, Anthony Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne
  Dean, Charmaine Western University
  Demirtas, Derya University of Toronto
  Duchesne, Thierry Université Laval
  Feldman, Laura University of Toronto
  Feng, Cindy University of Saskatchewan
  Field, Chris Dalhousie University
  Hu, Joan Simon Fraser University
  Li, Ye Public Health Ontario
  Ma, Renjun University of New Brunswick
  MacIntyre, Elaina Public Health Ontario
  Mills Flemming, Joanna Dalhousie University
  Murdoch, Duncan University of Western Ontario
  Nathoo, Farouk University of Victoria
  Reid, Nancy University of Toronto
  Rosychuk, Rhonda University of Alberta
  Ruppert, Jonathan University of Toronto
  Schiks, Tom University of Toronto
  Schoenberg, Rick University of California, Los Angeles
  Simpson, Daniel University of Warwick
  Soltanifar, Mohsen Publich Health Sciences
  Stafford, James University of Toronto
  Stein, Michael University of Chicago
  Taylor, Benjamin University of Lancaster
  Torabi, Mahmoud Manitoba Institute of Child Health (MICH), University of Manitoba
  Waller, Lance Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University
  Watts, Alexander University of Toronto
  Woolford, Douglas Wilfrid Laurier University
  Xiao, Bowei University of Toronto



The event is planned as part of the thematic program in Big Data to be held at the Fields Institute in 2015

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