Statistical Inference of Properties of Distributions: Theory, Algorithms, and Applications

Date: 9:30am, March 5, 2018
Location: CEPSR 750
Speaker: Jiantao Jiao, Stanford University

Abstract:Modern data science applications—ranging from graphical model learning to image registration to inference of gene regulatory networks—frequently involve pipelines of exploratory analysis requiring accurate inference of a property of the distribution governing the data rather than the distribution itself. Notable examples of properties include Shannon entropy, mutual information, Kullback-Leibler divergence, and total variation distance, among others. This talk will focus on recent progress in the performance, structure, and deployment of near-minimax-optimal estimators for a large variety of properties in high-dimensional and nonparametric settings.‚Äč

Biography: Jiantao Jiao is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Electrical Engineering at Stanford University. He received the B.Eng. degree in Electronic Engineering from Tsinghua University, Beijing, China in 2012, and the M.Eng. degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University in 2014. He is a recipient of the Presidential Award of Tsinghua University and the Stanford Graduate Fellowship. He was a semi-plenary speaker at ISIT 2015 and a co-recipient of the ISITA 2016 Student Paper Award. He co-designed and co-taught the graduate course EE378A (Statistical Signal Processing) at Stanford University in 2016 and 2017, with his advisor Tsachy Weissman. His research interests are in statistical machine learning, high-dimensional and nonparametric statistics, information theory, and their applications in medical imaging, genomics, and natural language processing. He is a co-founder of Qingfan (, an online platform that democratizes technical training and job opportunities for anyone with access to the internet.

Host: Professor John Wright

500 W. 120th St., Mudd 1310, New York, NY 10027    212-854-3105               
©2014 Columbia University