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You are here: Home Groups Statistics at a Crossroads: Challenges and Opportunities in the Data Science Era

Statistics at a Crossroads: Challenges and Opportunities in the Data Science Era

Join Policy
22 Jun 2018



We need your ideas!

This workshop provides an opportunity for the statistics community to help the NSF understand which areas of research to invest in. Please us the form (linked below) to tell us your thoughts about:

  • Emerging applications that require new statistical foundations or computational thinking
  • Relationship between statistics and data science 
  • Success stories and valuable lessons that can help us take a leadership role in data science
  • Funding priorities at NSF and other agencies in the new era
  • Most critical areas for current and future research/education developments 

Statistics at a Crossroads: Challenges and Opportunities in the Data Science Era

As data-related challenges become ubiquitous in the physical, biological, engineering, geological and social sciences as well in government and public policy, the Statistics community is at a crossroads.  This workshop brings together leading researchers and educators to develop a 10-20 year vision for the field of Statistics taking advantage of the unprecedented opportunities and challenges in the era of data science. 

The goals of the workshop include

  1. Identifying emerging research topics that will require new statistical foundations, methodology, and computational thinking;
  2. Engaging with important data-driven challenges in different application domain and fostering interdisciplinary collaborations to address important scientific challenges;
  3. Creating a vibrant research community, maintaining an appropriate balance between different sub-fields of Statistics including investments in the foundations;

The overall process is divided into two stages. The first stage will involve engaging a wide community through webinars, and an online discussion forum. The second stage will be a face to face workshop. Attendance at the workshop will be by invitation. The workshop participants will use the input gathered via the online mechanisms to help to shape the discussions.

Presentations at the workshop and pre-workshop webinars will address important data-driven challenges in smart and connected cities, astronomy,  and other data-intensive areas.

The face to face workshop will take place at the Crystal Gateway Marriott, Arlington, Virginia, October 15-17, 2018.  A previous workshop was held at the National Science Foundation in 2002 to discuss the future challenges and opportunities for the statistics community. That was a time when the statistics community saw rapid changes and sustained growth from the emergence of more and larger-scale data. Since then, the growth of the field, including the size of the undergraduate and graduate programs in statistics and the breadth of interactions between statistics and other fields, has accelerated.  In the meantime, both the public and the private sectors have embraced big data, as more and more people recognize that big data can provide important insights. The statistics community recognizes that we are at a crossroads with an unprecedented opportunity to modernize itself to become the major player in data science but also with a non-ignorable risk to make ourselves obsolete in the broad community of data science.  This workshop asks a critical question, where we go from here. The workshop seeks to invite active researchers and educators in Statistics and Data Science to address the question and to produce a report narrating the challenges to and opportunities for Statistics stakeholders (e.g., individual researchers, academic departments, and funding agencies). Pre-workshop and post-workshop discussions via online forums are planned to seek broader community input.


The steering committee:
James Berger (Duke University)
Xuming He (University of Michigan)
David Madigan  (Columbia University)
Susan Murphy (Harvard University)
Bin Yu (University of California, Berkeley)
Jon Wellner (University of Washington).

How to use this website

In preparation for the workshop, we would like you to do three things:

  • Fill in your online profile.
  • Add to the background reading section. Each of you brings a unique perspective to this challenge. What would you recommend for us all to read? Please add your suggestions to the comments box, at the bottom of the reading list page
  • Take a moment to learn about your fellow participants.

What to bring?

Almost everything you will need to participate in the event will be provided. However, it is worth mention a couple of things:

  • It will be useful to bring your computer, or iPad. You will find it helpful for both accessing publications, and drafting research ideas
  • The hotel has a gym, and a swimming pool, so if you like to exercise, please bring your sports wear of choice

What to wear?

Dress for creativity, rather than formality.


This meeting is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation (DMS-1840278, University of Michigan).

The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed on this site are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Knowinnovation Inc.