Summer school: check

In the last week, I’ve been in Florence for our Summer School in Bayesian methods in health economics.

In comparison to last year, we’ve had a slightly smaller class — but I think things have worked just as well. People were rather vocal and we’ve had quiet a lot of discussion and relevant questions. Perhaps, this year was also a slightly less heterogenous class (although you always get lots of variation in the entry level at things like this), which I think helped slightly in keeping most people, if not everybody, more or less on the same level. We’ve also brought a couple of additions to the syllabus — in particular around survival analysis and missing data (mostly I drew on our work here and here). And the material on the analysis of value of information, while not changed massive, I think has become a bit more coherent and I felt it flowed more easily.

On a different note, we also had slightly worse weather, in comparison to last year — on Monday during one of the first lectures, I was joking that I’m getting a reputation for breaking the weather in countries where it’s typically nice and sunny. As soon as I finished making the joke, a massive storm descended upon Florence — for about 40 minutes it really poured down! Other than that (and a bit on Thursday night), it was OK, though — I think people could do a bit of sightseeing too!

Finally, for the third year running, I’ve witnessed some substantial problems with strikes (air traffic controllers in all three cases, I think) in the first couple of weeks of June:

  • In 2016, I was coming back from ISBA and got semi-stranded in Cagliari. At the time, I thought it was a clever excuse because Italy were playing in the Euro championships. This kind of excuse, however, wouldn’t hold in a non-tournament year, such as 2017 or 2018, for that matter (as we do not play, I think it’s only fair to cancel the minor Russian event…). Eventually, I managed to leave (delayed, but on the same night I was supposed to);
  • In 2017, I wasn’t really affected, but people had problems leaving from our summer school — last year I stayed a bit longer, so by the time I left on the Sunday, all was clear;
  • This year, again wasn’t too bad, after all — my flight was delayed by one hour initially, then by an additional 40 minutes, while we’re waiting to push back.

Anyway, I had fun and enjoyed the whole week. We have also discussed some ideas to make the programme even more interesting (e.g. bringing in some Stan implementation for some of the practicals, or may be some minor restructuring of some of the lectures). There is a chance that we’ll remember about these only the week before the next edition (awhich we haven’t set yet, but will do soon) and thus will struggle to implement them all… But we’ll try to be good and do these in good time!

Next up: Bayes 2018 in Cambridge!

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