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According to tradition, the school kicks off with an introduction to imprecise probabilities on Monday. In the next three days, we explore a variety of fields and disciplines that make use of imprecise probabilities: decision theory, logic, artificial intelligence, uncertain processes and quantum physics. Emphasis will be put on how and why imprecision is adopted in and relevant to these topics or disciplines, and the lecturers will discuss the consequences—both benefits and drawbacks—of allowing for imprecision in the disciplines under discussion. The lectures are of course given by leading experts in the field. We finish the school on Friday with a hands-on research project and an atypical panel discussion. Throughout the week, we organise two social activities that will allow you to get better acquainted with the other participants in a(n even) more relaxed setting.

Tentative programme overview #

08:00 – 08:45Registration
08:45 – 09:00Opening words
09:00 – 10:00IntroductionDecisionAIProcessesProject
10:00 – 10:15coffee breakcoffee breakcoffee breakcoffee breakcoffee break
10:15 – 11:15IntroductionDecisionAIProcessesProject
11:15 – 11:30toilet breaktoilet breaktoilet breaktoilet breaktoilet break
11:30 – 12:30IntroductionDecisionAIProcessesProject
12:30 – 14:00lunch breaklunch breaklunch breaklunch breaklunch break
14:00 – 15:00IntroductionLogicAIQuantumProject
15:00 – 15:15coffee breakcoffee breakcoffee breakcoffee breakcoffee break
15:15 – 16:15IntroductionLogicKayakQuantumProject
16:15 – 16:30toilet breaktoilet breaktoilet breaktoilet break
16:30 – 17:30IntroductionLogicQuantumDiscussion
17:30 – ??:??Pizza🥳💃🕺

Topics #

Introduction to imprecise probabilities #

Erik Quaeghebeur

The goal of the ‘Introduction to imprecise probabilities’ lecture is to take students with an understanding of multivariate probability theory to a working understanding of the basic concepts and techniques in imprecise probability. Namely, after the lecture, you, the student, should be able to

  1. motivate why it is valuable to have uncertainty modeling approaches that move beyond classical probability theory and explain how imprecise probability models achieve this,
  2. describe the three foundational representations of imprecise probability models—credal sets, lower and upper previsions/expectations, and sets of desirable gambles—and their relationships,
  3. derive inferences from and make decisions based on (simple) uncertainty models in these representations, and
  4. explain how conditioning and independence are generalized from classical probability theory.

Decisions #

Matthias C.M. Troffaes

Since Abraham Wald’s seminal work, decisions have been at the center of statistical inference. They also play a central role in the betting interpretation of lower previsions. We will investigate the decision theoretic foundations to bounded probability and its link to standard Bayesian decision theory, critically reviewing some fundamental problems encountered. We introduce a few of the most popular decision criteria, and explain why you might use them or not. Finally, we will demonstrate the theory on some simple but practical machine learning problems, and show how they benefit from the robustness against severe uncertainty featured by these decision criteria.

The logic of desirability #

Alessandro Facchini

A powerful theory of uncertainty is that of coherent sets of desirable gambles (or desirability). It encompasses, in a uniform way, the Bayesian theory of probability as well as Bayesian robustness and many other theories of uncertainty. Several works have been carried out to explicitly relate desirability and logic, either by formulating the former as a logical system, or by describing some common underlying structural characteristics. The goal of this lecture is to make sense of these attempts by introducing students to some basic concepts and methods from (abstract) logic and to desirability, including some of its recent generalisations.

Causal inference and AI applications by imprecise graphical models #

Alessandro Antonucci

We discuss the intimate connection between causal inference and imprecise probability models. This allows for a deeper understanding of the identifiability problems characterising causal analysis while offering new counterfactual analysis tools. We achieve that within the popular Pearlian framework of structural causal models, thus establishing a link with credal networks. This allows us to describe the literature on imprecise probabilistic graphical models and their applications to AI even outside causal inference. This touches on various important domains such as machine learning, probabilistic logic, argumentation and reinforcement learning.

Imprecise-probabilistic processes #

Alexander Erreygers & Michael Kupper

There’s several ways to go about modelling uncertain processes in the setting of imprecise probabilities, each with its strengths and weaknesses. This lecture starts with a brief overview and discussion of three of these ways in the basic yet important setting of discrete-time uncertain processes with a finite state space, and in particular in that of imprecise Markov chains. Next we take a look at how imprecision naturally arises when lumping states in a (precise) Markov chain, and how in this setting imprecise Markov chains are not only useful as a model but also as a computational tool. In the second part of this lecture we take a look at what one can do in the more advanced setting where the state space is infinite and/or time is continuous, with a particular interest in mathematical finance.

Quantum mechanics and imprecise probabilities #

Gert de Cooman

A number of research groups have started to pay attention to the connections between quantum theory and imprecise probabilities, and the aim of this lecture is to lay out the basic ideas that make this connection interesting and appealing. We begin with a brief rehearsal of the basics of quantum mechanics, and the role that Hilbert spaces (as state spaces) and Hermitian operators (as measurements) play there. As a next step, we discuss the motivation for, and the foundations of, a theory of desirable measurements, inspired by the desirable gambles discussed in the Introduction to imprecise probabilities lecture, but where the real linear space of all gambles is replaced by the real linear space of all measurements (Hermitian operators). The standard transition from desirability to sets of probabilities leads us to consider (sets of) density operators as a dual and (almost) equivalent model; this well-known duality in the theory of imprecise probabilities is thus recovered here as the duality between the Heisenberg and the Schrödinger representations of quantum mechanics. Once these foundations have been established, we’ll give a few examples to show how interesting aspects of imprecise probabilities such as the treatment of symmetries and the practical usefulness of imprecision in Markov chains, have a consequential role to play in quantum mechanics as well.

Research project #

The fifth and final day is almost completely dedicated to letting you tackle a one-day research project of your choice—on one of the topics of the lectures—in small groups under the supervision of the lecturers. This will allow you to work together with and learn from your fellow students, who presumably have expertise in different research fields.

Panel discussion #

The school concludes with a perhaps somewhat atypical 1-hour panel discussion, where you get to discuss with the lecturers. While it can be interesting to discuss future research directions and challenges for the field of imprecise probabilities, we would like to focus most on advice for young researchers, ranging from tips for setting up fruitful collaborations to opportunities and interesting responsibilities beside one’s research, or from the importance of (and issues with) the review process to making the best of a poster session.

Lecturers #

Alessandro Antonucci #

Gert de Cooman #

Alexander Erreygers #

Alessandro Facchini #

Michael Kupper #

Erik Quaeghebeur #

Matthias C.M. Troffaes #

Social activities #

On Monday evening, we end the school’s first day with an easy-going pizza night to facilitate interaction and connection between the participants and lecturers. Besides this pizza night, there is one more social activity: on Wednesday late afternoon, the participants and lecturers get to explore the canals of Ghent by kayak, a unique and fun way to visit the beautiful historical centre of Ghent. Of course, on Friday evening, we assume the participants to take the initiative and wrap up the summer school with a dance party.

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