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Campus inMoscow

# HSE and the International Year of Statistics

This year HSE is taking part in the International Year of Statistics. We asked Vice Dean of the Faculty of Economics Alexey Ponomarenko to tell us about the events which are planned in connection with it, including those at the April Conference.

Before you say anything Alexey Nikolayevich, please can you explain what the International Year of Statistics actually is?

You know, the phrase, “Lies, damned lies and statistics”, wasn’t invented in Russia. It was Benjamin Disraeli, the British Prime Minister who said it first. It was instantly popular and translated into most languages around the world. I’ve even heard it in Japan. But the irony is that humanity can’t live without statistics even for a day anymore. Just consider how many statistics are piled onto a listener during the reporting of an ordinary hockey game. But that’s just child’s play. Can you imagine a billion dollar deal on the stock market made without the necessary statistical analysis? Statistical methods are used to calculate the ratings of TV channels and of politicians, they are used in sociology, medicine, physics, astronomy in organising how buses move and how airports are built, in quality control of goods production, in short, practically everywhere.

The new technology has brought an avalanche of information that we need to know how to work with. We have to be able to make a qualitative assessment of occurrences, to collect data, systematise and put vast quantities of information in order, reveal trends, calculate dependencies, in other words, to do what is called “statistics” properly. As Bill Gates says, the way you gather, organise and make use of information determines whether you win or lose. And with things being like this, the army of statisticians will grow regardless of what Disraeli said a hundred and fifty years ago.

These days the number of jobs for statisticians is around 4.4 million worldwide, and the majority of those are good, highly-paid jobs. The world is changing – in the US today statistician is among the top ten most prestigious professions.

At 200 the International Statistical Institute, ISI, is one of the oldest statistical research organisations in the world and continues to be a world centre for the study of statistics. Last year ISI announced its plans to hold an international year of statistics. The idea is to popularise statistics, primarily among young people. The initiative was welcomed by many universities, research centres, official statistics organisations and schools – about 1200 in all, from all around the world, including HSE.

So, what events are in the pipeline for the Year of Statistics?

It’s all on the ISI website. They are planning to hold several dozen events promoting statistics, including the World Statistics Congress, conferences, seminars, exhibitions, a school text book, special information films, elections for the “statistician of the year” and so on. We’re also planning to hold some events at HSE. We are improving our Master’s programme in statistics which we are preparing for an expert review at the University of Michigan. We intend to take part in the World Statistics Congress in Hong Kong, and in its satellite conference on education in statistics in Macau where we will make a presentation on our part in the project on teaching statisticians from CIS countries.

Our traditional HSE international statistics conference for graduates and undergraduates is getting new, higher status – we are going to announce it on the ISI website. We are doing a lot of preparation for the statistics section at the HSE April Conference. Besides, we are hoping to get funding to publish an encyclopaedia of statistics which we think could be a big event in the framework of the International Year of Statistics.

Are you planning on bringing over some famous statisticians?

Yes, of course. This is the second year we’ve been organising the statistics section at the April Conference. Last year we had some distinguished guests from abroad, like the chief statistician in the US, Ms Katherine Wallman, the former head of the UN Statistical Department Mr Hermann Habermann, and the former leader of the statistics cluster at the World Bank, Mr Misha Belkindas. This year we are hoping to widen the geographical range and are expecting guests from Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Poland, Austria, Japan as well as experts from the UN. Besides taking part in the conference our guests will give master classes for our students. But of course we are not just limiting things to the April Conference. In spring, there will be a cycle of lectures by Dr Stanislav Molchanov from the University of North Carolina, Charlotte on using methods of mathematical statistics to analyse the situation in the financial markets. In the autumn we are expecting Dr. Erik Dietzenbacher of Groningen University with a series of fascinating lectures on using new statistical methods based on the Input-Output technique, which he will present as part of his lecture tour in Russia, Brazil and China.

Which other Russian organisations intend to take part in the events of the Year of Statistics and will there be jointly held events?

Rosstat, MGIMO, MESI and several other Russian universities have all signed up on the ISI website as organisations supporting the Year of Statistics. HSE actively works together with some of these universities in the framework of the Association of leading HEIs in the field of economics and management. HSE is obviously a leader, but leadership comes with responsibility. So we are thinking not just about our own development, we want to help other HEIs which don’t have the opportunities we have to develop too. And that’s exactly what the Year of Statistics is all about. So we are planning a joint event with other Russian universities and HEIs to raise the qualifications of statistics teachers. We hope our initiative will gain support.

Are you expecting students to take part in these events?

Everything we intend to do as part of the Year of Statistics in the final outcome is done in the interests of our students. For their sake we are improving the programmes, organising master classes with leading world-class specialists, and holding conferences. I have already mentioned the conference on statistics for students and graduates. Besides that we are planning to open a number of research laboratories and we hope students will come to them. And I’m not talking about the annual celebration of statistics day by the students at the HSE Department of Statistics, Data Analysis and Demography. Please, everyone who is interested, look at our page http://statistics.hse.ru/stat2012  and you’ll see that studying with us is not only interesting but promises a good future and is fun!

Peter Radzikhovski, specially for the HSE news portal

## 25th Yasin (April) International Academic Conference Now Accepting Proposals

Reports on new research results will be presented and discussed as part of the conference’s sections. These reports will be selected based on reviews of proposals. As always, the conference programme features expert discussions of the most pressing economic, social, internal and external issues in the format of roundtables and associated events.

## Academic Council: HSE University’s Contribution to Achieving National Goals and Development Priorities to Increase

HSE University’s Development Programme until 2030 will be improved in order to increase the university’s contribution to achieving national goals and implementing the priorities of the country’s scientific and technological development. This decision was made by the university’s Academic Council on April 26. The meeting also addressed the principles for the development of HSE University’s external communications, one of which is the creation of a high-quality information field around the university.

## Keeping Up with the Neighbours: Envy as a Driver of Economic Growth

Classical economic theory assumes that economic agents are entirely self-interested and rational in their pursuit of material well-being, and that they are not affected by external factors. As a result, externalities are not considered in any way when constructing economic models. Nevertheless, some sociologists argue for a revision of modern economic theory to incorporate the ethical dimensions of economic agents' behaviour. Kirill Borissov, Professor of the Faculty of Economics at the European University in St Petersburg, spoke at the XXIV Yasin (April) International Academic Conference and shared his observations from creating his own economic model incorporating the factor of envy.

## Structural Transformation and Drivers of Sustainable Growth in Russian Economy Discussed at HSE University

The Russian economy has demonstrated high resilience to unprecedented external pressure and has managed to largely adapt to new conditions. As early as this year, it can go from recession to growth. The issue of where to find drivers and resources for this was discussed at a plenary session titled ‘Russian Economy under Sanctions: From Adaptation to Sustainable Growth’ at the XXIV Yasin (April) International Academic Conference held at HSE University as part of the Decade of Science and Technology. Minister of Economic Development of the Russian Federation Maksim Reshetnikov took part in the discussion.

## ‘People Want to Receive Only Useful Content’

Experts say that interest in news has sharply increased among the Russian audience. At the same time, part of the audience deliberately avoids it. What kind of content is in demand and will people continue to watch TV? These and other issues were discussed at the plenary session ‘ Info-hygiene and Information Elitism: How to Consume Media Properly’ at the XXIV Yasin (April) International Academic Conference.

## 'The Emerging Trends in Africa Will Shape the World Order, and We Need to Be Prepared for That'

Africa has the potential to become a new economic giant. Today, African countries are interested in comprehensive cooperation and strengthening their positions in the global arena, and they look forward to receiving assistance from Russia and China in developing their technology, economy, and social sphere. Effective engagement with Africa requires training a greater number of professional African studies specialists. The XXIV Yasin (April) International Academic Conference at HSE University featured a plenary session on 'Africa in a Changing World'.

## Learning a Foreign Language Can Delay the Onset of Dementia

Dementia, a debilitating form of cognitive impairment, can be preventable. According to Professor Jubin Abutalebi of the University Vita Salute San Raffaele, Italy, and the Arctic University of Tromsoe, Norway, the easiest way to prevent cognitive decline after the age of 60 is to learn and practice foreign languages – the more languages, the better, suggests Professor Abutalebi in his presentation 'Preventing dementia through bilingualism' at the XXIV Yasin (April) International Academic Conference.

## ‘The BRICS Strategic Partnership Offers the World Creative, Unifying, Forward-Looking Initiatives’

Today, BRICS has become an influential factor in modern international relations and is perceived as one of the pillars of a more just world order. This association is not based on one party’s dominance, but instead, is built on a sound balance of interests. The role of the association was discussed by the participants of the plenary session ‘BRICS Development Strategy: Equal Opportunities in an Unequal World’at the XXIV Yasin (April) International Academic Conference.

## Sanctions Create New Opportunities for Russian Companies

Like any crisis, the sanctions of 2022, besides problems, have created new opportunities for Russian companies. This is the conclusion that HSE University’s experts have come to. Their study results are presented in the report ‘Adaptation of Russian Industrial Companies to Sanctions: First Steps and Expectations’, prepared by HSE University for the XXIV Yasin (April) International Academic Conference.

## Search Query: How to Study Migration with Google Trends

Experts have calculated that the number of international students in Russia has grown six times over the last decade, and researchers say that many of those who are studying today would like to stay in the country. This, alongside issues such as why Google Trends are worth looking into, were covered at the HSE XXIV Yasin International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development section on demography and labour markets.