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  • Writer's pictureJake Tan

My First Time at JSM

From August 7 to 10, I was in Washington D.C. to attend the Joint Statistical Meetings to present my project about the Thucydides Trap. While I was there, I attended presentations on various statistical topics and met with four college professors to talk about what it takes to pursue a career in data science (I will talk about the meetings in a separate blog).

Being my first time at JSM, the first session I attended was the First Time Attendee Mixer. After a brief presentation, I was left at a table with other first-timers. While talking to them, everyone was surprised that I was a high school student.

I was surprised at how empty the convention center felt. According to the people I talked to, there was noticeably less people than before COVID (this was the first in-person meeting since 2019). With the size of the convention center, everyone was spread out. Despite having several thousand attendees, it did not feel like there were that many people at JSM.

I was also surprised by how rigid the schedule was, everyone’s presentations were sorted into neat two-hour blocks, this also meant that session hopping was very easy. If a session became to technical or boring for me, I could just leave and go to another; because of this structure, I really liked the speed sessions where each speaker would get five minutes to present. Another thing I noticed during the speed sessions was that people used it to advertise their posters. After seeing these sessions, I wished I had thought of doing such a session.

Overall, I felt the presentations were very technical for my current level of understanding. However, I still learned about different statistical concepts such as Bayesian statistics. I listened to presentations about sports statistics, networking, machine learning, and many other topics within speed sessions.

On Wednesday, I presented my poster on the time it takes for war to break out in a Thucydides Trap. While I was nervous at first, I got comfortable with answering questions quickly. Most of the questions were general ones, asking for a summary, how I got interested in the project, etc. but some of the questions made me think. For example, what other parameters would I add other than time; while time was certainly not the only factor for if a war breaks out, I had not really considered any other quantifiable parameters since political climate or growing technology cannot be quantified. In addition, there were things I realized I should have added such as a confidence measure for my combined model. I also talked with a professor who wanted to use my appendix. I plan to reach out for research opportunities with him. I think the presentation was an enjoyable experience in which I gained some insight on my own project.

Compared to the posters around me, I would say my poster attracted a healthy crowd, I have included some pictures below.

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