Robert Leese

Dr Robert Leese

Director, Industrial Mathematics KTN

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Trying to quantify uncertainty

Prof David Spiegelhalter (Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at Cambridge) will be giving a public lecture at the London School of Economic on Wednesday 17 November, entitled "Trying to Quantify Uncertainty".  The event is free and no ticket is required.


Abstract: There has been a traditional division between 'risk', which can be quantified using probability distributions, and 'uncertainty', which is the surrounding mess of doubt, disagreement and ignorance. In well-understood situations we may be happy to quote reasonable odds for future events, and I shall look at ways in which these risks can be communicated visually. When the problem is more complex, analysts may use a mixture of judgement and historical data to construct a mathematical model that can assess future risks, but deeper uncertainties may be glossed over. I will use examples from swine flu to climate change to illustrate different approaches to dealing with uncertainty, from ignoring it to trying to fully quantify it, and conclude that we should all try to be aware and open about the magnitude and potential consequences of our ignorance.


Time: 18.30-20.00, Wednesday 17 November 2010

Venue: Hong Kong Theatre, Clement House, Houghton St, WC2A 2AE

Enquiries: or 020-7955-6043

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