Columbia University Department of Statistics
2016 Minghui Yu Memorial Conference

About Minghui Memorial Conference

The 2016 Minghui Yu Memorial Conference, organized by doctoral students at Statistics Department of Columbia University, will take place on Saturday, April 23th in the Social Hall at Union Theological Seminary. Minghui Yu was a doctoral student at the statistics department, who passed away in a tragic accident in the spring of 2008. Since then, doctoral students at statistic department have been organizing a conference each year to honor his memory.

The conference will feature talks by doctoral students at the Statistics Department, ranging from those just beginning a research program to those who are about to defend dissertations. In addition to being an occasion to remember our friend and colleague, this event will be an opportunity to learn about exciting new research areas emerging from our department. We would like to thank the Department of Statistics for their continuous support.

About Minghui Yu

Minghui was born in Shandong, China in 1983. In 2002, he entered the Special Class for the Gifted Young at the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC), one of the most prestigious universities in China. Minghui possessed the rare quality of being not only smart, but also diligent, versatile, modest and easy-going. He was the type of friend who would stand by you no matter the situation. Minghui breezed through the challenging undergraduate program at USTC, ranking at the top of his class. Minghui was well liked by his fellows students having served as the class president from his sophomore year. Although under enormous academic pressure, he still found time to organize a series of student activities, such as hiking, art performances, and athletic contests for his fellow students.

After graduating summa cum laude in 2006 from USTC, Minghui entered the PhD program at the Physics Department of Columbia University. After one year, he transferred to the doctorate program in statistics. During his time at Columbia, Minghui served as the public relations head of the Columbia University's Chinese Students and Scholars Association (2007-2008), and was a member of the Columbia Chinese Basketball Association and the Columbia Graduate Student Consulting Club. His biography on the CUCSSA website mentioned his love of ''movies, photography and delicacies''. Minghui described himself in his blog as ''a boy who wants to combine art and science together''.

On April 4, 2008, after attending a student-organized conference, Minghui escorted his girlfriend home on the west side of campus. On his return, he was accosted by juveniles as he was crossing 122nd and Broadway and in his attempt to flee, he was struck by an automobile on Broadway. Minghui was taken to St. Luke's Hospital where he passed away a short time later.

Keynote Speaker

This year we are excited to have Professor Harrison Huibin Zhou as our keynote speaker this year. Prof. Harrisson Zhou is the Chair of the Statistics department at Yale University, where he works since 2004. His many research topics include Le Cam theory, covariance matrix estimation, Bayesian nonparametrics, network analysis, functional data analysis, function estimation … His broad research interest is matched by impressive publications in many journals. He is a fellow of the Institute of Mathematical statistics and an elected member of the International Statistical Institute. He is also the recipient of several awards notably the Tweedie Award, for innovative and significant contributions to the theory and methods of nonparametric function estimation; and for outstanding contributions to high-dimensional statistical inference. In addition he has also been awarded the Noether Young Researcher Scholar Award, an IMS medallion lecture and is the winner of NSF career award. He is also very active in the statistical community as shown by his many professional services and invited lectures. It’s a real pleasure to have him with us for this conference.

Program Schedule

For the full program schedule and abstracts, see the program book for details.

  • 9:00 - 9:20 Breakfast
    9:20 - 9:30 Opening remarks by Richard Davis, Columbia University
  • Morning Session I

    Chair: Professor Tian Zheng

    9:30 - 9:45 Yuting Ma, Stabilized Sparse Online Learning for Sparse Data
    9:45 - 10:00 Yuanjun Gao, Black Box Variational Inference for State Space Models
    10:00 - 10:15 Swupnil Sahai, Expectation Propagation for Scalable Inference of Hierarchical Bayesian Models
    10:15 - 10:30 Lu Meng, Spectral Filtering for Spatio-temporal Dynamics
  • Morning Session II

    Chair: Professor Marcel Nutz

    10:45 - 11:00 Lisha Qiu, On the Detection of Asset Bubbles
    11:00 - 11:15 Leo Neufcourt, Insider Trading
    11:15 - 11:30 Richard Neuberg, Predicting Green's Function
    11:30 - 11:45 Aditi Dandapani, Initial Expansions of Filtrations and the Strict Local Martingale Property
  • Morning Session III

    Chair: Professor Jose Blanchet

    12:00 - 12:15 Phyllis Wan, Asymptotics of Fourier Methods for Testing Independence of Vectors and Time Series
    12:15 - 12:30 Shuaiwen Wang, Low Noise Analysis of Minimax Estimators
    12:30 - 12:45 Morgane Austern, Central-limit Theorem for Kolmogorov Complexity
    12:45 - 1:00 Haolei Weng, Phase Transition and Noise Sensitivity Analysis of Bridge Regression
  • Keynote Presentation

    2:00 - 3:00 Professor Harrison Zhou, Yale University
    A Review of Some Optimality Results in Network Analysis and Beyond
  • Afternoon Session I

    Chair: Professor José Zubizarreta

    3:15 - 3:30 Maria de los Angeles Resa Juarez, Stable Balancing Weights for Marginal Structural Models
    3:30 - 3:45 Susanna Maleka, Bayesian Analysis for Cluster Sampling
    3:45 - 4:00 Chris Dolan, Robust Performance of Optimal Switching Problems
    4:00 - 4:15 Feihan Lu , A Note about Appropriate Background Selection in Disproportionality Analyses of Spontaneous Drug Safety Reports
  • Afternoon Session II

    Chair: Professor Richard Davis

    4:30 - 4:45 Gonzalo Mena, Extending Spike Sorting for Simultaneous Extra-cellular Electrical Stimulation and Recording
    4:45 - 5:00 Jing Zhang, Semiparametric Estimation for Non-Gaussian Non-minimum Phase ARMA Models



The Union Theological Seminary is located on Northwestern corner of Columbia University's Morningside Height campus. The entrance to the Seminary is on the west side of Broadway at 121st Street. Directions can found here. The conference will be held at the Social Hall on the ground floor of the Seminary.