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  • Interdisciplinary stats

    Yuhong Yang thinks his NSF CAREER Award will aid numerous other academic disciplines.


  • When it comes to statistical data, Yuhong Yang, assistant professor of statistics, says random errors do occur.

    He'll now have the opportunity to research those errors and find solutions that will be applicable to numerous other academic disciplines.

    "In applications, a difficulty a user often faces is the choice of the best method to be used for the data at hand," Yang said.

    This is especially the case for high-dimensional function estimation, where to overcome what Yang refers as "the curse of dimensionality," various methods have been and/or will be proposed according to different characterizations of the target function.

    Yang is striving to construct adaptive estimators by combining a collection of candidate procedures.

    "The goal for the combined procedure is to perform automatically as well as, or nearly as well as, the best original procedure without knowing which one it is," he said.

    What makes Yang's research more interesting and challenging is that he will deal with generally dependent random errors instead of independent or short-range dependent errors as is usually assumed. Long-range dependence refers to the case when the correlation between two errors remains strong even when two observations are far part either in space or in time.

    Long-range dependencies have been observed in many applied scientific disciplines including astronomy, physics, geoscience, hydrology and signal processing. Statistical issues become much more complicated when long-range dependence happens.

    Yang's research in this area will now be funded by a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award from the NSF's Division of Mathematical Sciences. The five-year $250,000 grant is entitled "Adaptive Regression for Dependent Data by Combining Different Procedures."

    The statistics professor has been researching this phenomenon since he came to Iowa State.

    "This grant was a natural extension for me to continue work in this area," he said. "My strength has been on the theoretical side of statistics.

    "Some researchers in the field are aware of this problem," Yang continued. "Many are not however. We want to work with other disciplines and discuss the issues that arise from this and provide appropriate statistical solutions."

    Yang plans on collaborating with Iowa State professors and research groups in some academic disciplines including atmospheric science, electrical engineering, and agronomy among other areas.

    "I hope to work with several other groups on campus," he said. "We are already working with a group in electrical engineering. The more we work with these groups the more questions we will be asked and will be asking. By answering those questions, we'll be able to provide these groups with methods that will make them more efficient from a statistical point of view.

    "There's a lot of opportunity in this area in the future," he continued. "But I know that by the end of the grant's funding, many of these problems will be solved."

Yuhong Yang in office

Around LAS
March 26 to April 1, 2001