Corcoran Memorial Lecture 2020

Speaker: Professor Kerrie Mengersen, Queensland University

Title: (Not) Aggregating Data

Recording of the talk.

Abstract: The ability to generate, access and combine multiple sources of data presents both opportunity and challenge for statistical science. An exemplar phenomenon is the charge to collate all relevant data for the purposes of comprehensive control and analysis. However, this ambition is often thwarted by the relentless expansion in volume of data, as well as issues of data provenance, privacy and governance. Alternatives to creating ‘the one database to rule them all’ are emerging. An appealing approach is the concept of federated learning, also known as distributed analysis, which aims to analyse disparate datasets in situ. In this presentation, I will discuss some case studies that have motivated our interest in federated learning, review the statistical and computational issues involved in the development of such an approach, and outline our recent efforts to understand and implement a federated learning model in the context of the Australian Cancer Atlas.

Biography: Kerrie Mengersen graduated in 1985 with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours Class 1), majoring in Mathematics (Statistics) and Computing, and received her PhD in Mathematical Statistics in 1989 from the University of New England, New South Wales. Her PhD thesis was on the topic of ranking and selection under the supervision of Professor Eve Bofinger, one of the pioneer female university researchers in regional Australia.

Following graduation, she was recruited to a commercial statistical consulting company, which provided her with strong experience in a wide range of statistical methods in the context of diverse applied problems. Her career since then has been characterised by a dual focus of engaging with and developing new statistical methodology motivated by, and motivating, challenging statistical applications.

In 2016, QUT awarded the title of Distinguished Professor to Professor Kerrie Mengersen in recognition of her outstanding achievements, both nationally and internationally, in mathematics and statistical research. Distinguished Professor Mengersen is acknowledged to be one of the leading researchers in her discipline.

More information about the Corcoran Memorial Lectures.