Monday, January 28, 2013

Befriend a Book

Books are pretty special to most academics - and to many, many other readers as well. Some of us are especially interested in old books whose very publication tells the story of the history and development of our discipline.

For example, I'm pleased to own copies of Aitken (1942), Aitken (1949), and (courtesy of a former grad. student) Turnbull and Aitken (1932). Some years ago, in Australia, I had some luck at a garage sale and picked up terrific copies of Karl Pearson's Early Statistical Papers (edited by his son, Egon Pearson, in 1948), The Selected Papers of E. S. Pearson, and Contributions to Mathematical Statistics. The latter volume comprises a large number of R. A. Fisher's papers, edited by W. A. Shewhart in 1950.

In 2009, the Royal Statistical Society began a program that they called "Befriend a Book". The objective is to raise funds to assist in the conservation of important books in the historical collection held by the Society.

The latest (February, 2013) issue of the RSS Newsletter contains an item that describes the progress that's being made with "Befriend a Book". For example, the first book to be restored was a copy of de Moivre's The Doctrine of Chances (1838). There are also some interesting pictures of old books. (At least, I found them to be interesting!)


Aitken, A. C., 1942.  Determinants and Matrices, 2nd. ed.. Oliver and Boyd, Edinburgh.

Aitken, A. C., 1949, Statistical Mathematics, 6th. ed., Oliver and Boyd, Edinburgh.

Turnbull, H. W. & A. C. Aitken, 1932, An Introduction to the Theory of Canonical Matrices, Blackie & Son, London. 

© 2013, David E. Giles

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Granger Causality

It's interesting, to me, that the posts on this blog that have received (and continue to receive) the most hits are those relating to Granger causality. Or, more correctly, testing for Granger non-causality.

The top one of all time remains, "Testing for Granger Causality". (Maybe it's the catchy title?) Then, just behind "How Many Weeks Are There in a Year" (which has nothing to do with causality - at least, not in any  obvious sense), comes "VAR or VECM When Testing for Granger Causality?"

Moreover, in addition to the many comments/questions that are published with those posts, I get numerous emails on this topic - almost on a daily basis.

Of course, some of these are pretty predicable - essentially, they are asking me to do give them a research project; tell them how to write their paper; or else they want to me to tell them how to complete an assignment for some course they're taking!

But then there are the many, many thoughtful emails that ask interesting questions, and raise all sorts of issues that get me thinking. I really enjoy responding to as many of these as I can manage.

So, I've been thinking.

Is there a demand for a short monograph on testing for Granger causality, with the emphasis on the practice, not the theory. In other words, a "how to do it properly" book for non-specialists, with lots of real-data examples.

Any thoughts on this?

  • Is there a need?
  • What format should it take - printed or e-book?
  • Does this sounds like something that might interest you and/or your students?
I'll be interested to see your feedback.

© 2013, David E. Giles

Monday, January 21, 2013

How Many Econometricians Does it Take?

In the December 2012 issue of Significance, a monthly magazine now published jointly by the American Statistical Association and the Royal Statistical Society, there's an interesting article titled, "Statistics of Statisticians: Critical Masses for Research Groups".

In this article, Ralph Kenna and Beretrand Berche discuss the idea of critical mass when it comes to the size of research groups in various disciplines. They explain how the so-called "Ringelmann effect" in sociology can be tested, and how this leads to measures of an upper bound on group sizes, "... above which research quality either tends not to improve or the rate of improvement starts to level out."


ÊSTIMATE stands for "Early Summer Tutorial In Modern Applied Tools of Econometrics" - the title of a course to be run by the Econometrics group at Michigan State University between 31 May and 2 June this year.

The instructors will be Jeff Wooldridge and Tim Vogelsang, and the topics to be covered are:

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Here's a site that I use quite a lot: Zamzar.

Zamzar allows you to upload a file in one format, and they convert it for free to a new format of your choice. You don't have to download and install any software on you own machine. All you need is the original file and an email address.

This morning, for example, I used Zamzar to convert a .emf file to a .gif file. Quick and easy!

© 2013, David E. Giles

Sums of Random Variables

I'm currently teaching first-level course in statistical inference for  (mostly) economics students. They've taken a one-semester course in descriptive (economic) statistics, and now we're dealing with sampling distributions, estimation, hypothesis testing, and simple regression analysis.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Statisticians in History

Today is the birth date of Gertrude M. Cox (1900 - 1978).

The American Statistical Association has a web site titled, "Statisticians in History". The section of that site that I especially like is the one that provides biographical information about a number of influential statisticians.

Students of econometrics will find a wealth of interesting material in many of these bios. It`s always fun to "put a face to the name", and in a sense, this is one way to do it. So, yes, Gertrude Cox was born on 13 January 1900. She was the first Chair of the Department of Experimental Statistics at N.C. State. Read her bio., and you'll see for yourself what a pioneer she was.

Other entries that I especially recommend are those for Herman Hollerith, Jerzy Neyman, and John Tukey.

My personal favourite (for reasons that will be clear from earlier posts - here and here) is the interview with Arnold Zellner.


© 2012, David E. Giles

Friday, January 11, 2013

Canadian Econometrics Study Group

The 2013 Meeting of the Canadian Econometrics Study Group is being hosted by the Department of Economics at the University of Waterloo, from 18 to 20 October, 2013.

Details of this upcoming meeting can be found here.

This is the 30th time that the CESG will be meeting, and it promises to be a great event. The focus of this year's meeting will be on IV, GMM, and GEL, and invited speakers include Joel Horowitz (Northwestern U) and Yuichi Kitamura (Yale U).

© 2012, David E. Giles

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

James Buchanan

James M. Buchanan, Nobel Laureate in 1986 for his work in public choice, has passed away at the age of 93. The New York Times reports on his death here.

I recall Buchanan presenting a seminar in the Department of Economics at the University of Canterbury (New Zealand) around 1990 or 1991. It was a great seminar, but what stands out most for me is the question period that followed his presentation.

A question was posed, which Buchanan answered in a clear and convincing way. An M.A. student then raised his hand and commented that he thought that the answer to the question should really be  quite different to what Buchanan had said. After thinking for a moment, Buchanan smiled, and said: "You know, I think your answer is much better than the one that I gave".

Everyone in attendance was mightily impressed - by our speaker's humility.

© 2012, David E. Giles

EViews 8

A Beta version of EViews 8 is available for users of version 7 of the package. You can get more information, and download the Beta version, here.

I've downloaded the 64-bit version of EViews 8, and I've started to play around with it. The advantage of the 64-bit version is that it can handle 120 million observations in a page, whereas the 32-bit version is limited to about 15 million observations. There are similar increases in the number of objects per workfile that can be handled. Of course, your machine must have a 64-bit OS, and lots of RAM to achieve these gains.

What else is new in EViews 8?

The list is long, but it includes the following:
  • Improvements to the general interface; data handling; and graphing.
  • Census X-13 for seasonal adjustment.
  • Panel principal components analysis.
  • Panel cointegration estimation.
  • Panel causality testing.
  • Heckman selection models.
  • Bayesian VARs.
  • Markov switching models.
And there's lots, lots more.

If you're an EViews user, take a look and see what interests you.

© 2012, David E. Giles

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Good Prospects for Econometrics Grad. Students?

Hat-tip to Ben Atkinson for drawing my attention to the fact that in The Chronicle of Higher Education on 17 December, Sara Hebel had a piece titled, "Academic Job Openings for Economists Grew Again This Year".

Here's what she had to say:

Thursday, January 3, 2013

SPEED Dating at the JSM

The Joint Statistical Meeting (JSM) is held each summer in a city in the U.S.A. or Canada. Last year, the JSM was held in San Diego, and it attracted some 6,300 attendees. This August, the JSM will be held in Montréal.

In an effort to deal with the size of the meeting, and the number of parallel sessions, a new format for some "contributed" sessions is to be tried out this year.

The following is an extract from the latest issue of Amstat News, the newsletter of the American Statistical Association.