Painting above is from "Random Numbers", Peter James Smith (1977). Victoria University of Wellington Art Collection. View entire painting

Notices & News

  • Date and Time:
    16:00 ~ 18:00
    Wednesday, 9th September 2015

    SLT1, Room G01, Ground
    Building 303 Science Building
    38 Princes Street, The University of Auckland

    Presentation 16:00~17:00

    Presenter:  Ian Shane Wong
    Topic: is a data mining tool that automatically finds patterns in   spreadsheet data. Built on top of (R API)
    Duration: 15 minutes

    Presenter:  Andrew Peterson PhD.
    Topic: Operational Forecasting of Short-term Hospital Occupancy using R
    Duration: 45 minutes

    Short-term forecasting of hospital occupancy is important for proactive bed management in order to minimise the risk of bed shortages, overcrowding, and the additional clinical risks these conditions can create for patients.

    An overview of a hospital forecasting system based on R and Rserve will be presented, including the mathematical underpinnings of Coxian phase-type distributions, how this class of distributions relate to the distribution of patient length of stay, and how they can be represented using finite state Markov chains to model the dynamics of hospital occupancy.

    Information will be provided on the design of the software solution which is based exclusively on R and a sprinkle of C++, how the model is fitted to data on patient length of stay using a particle swarm optimiser distributed across a cluster of computers, and how the software is deployed within a hospital’s enterprise architecture using Rserve to give 48 hour forecasts of occupancy that are updated every hour. Trials, tribulations, and lessons learned will also be shared.

    Networking 17:00~18:00
    Refreshments will be provided after the presentation. Thanks to our sponsors: NZSA and Harmonic Analytics Ltd

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  • Nihal de Silva

    On the evening of Saturday the 27th of June Nihal de Silva passed away after a battle with acute myloid leukaemia.

    Nihal joined what was then MAF Technology as a biometrician on 4 July 1988, and was initially based at Palmerston North before relocating to the Levin Horticultural Research Centre and commuting daily from Palmerston North.

    He had migrated to New Zealand from Sri Lanka where he had completed his BSc at the University of Ceylon in 1975 and Doctor of Philosophy in Quantitative Genetics at the University of Peradeniya in 1984. He had previously studied at Massey University where he completed his Masters in Agronomy in 1981, to be followed by a Diploma in Social Sciences in Statistics in 1992.

    His early work involved kiwifruit on-orchard crop estimation, where his past research experience in plant sciences and expertise in statistical software were to prove valuable.

    Nihal subsequently transferred to HortResearch, Palmerston North at the time the Crown Research Institutes were established in 1992. He later relocated to the Auckland site and became the Biometrics team leader. In this role he mentored a number of young statisticians which continued when HortResearch merged with Crop and Food forming Plant and Food Research. He was always more than happy help and very approachable. One common theme amongst the scientists he interacted was how he made the effort to understand the science behind the data.

    In addition to the high regard in which he has been held for his professional abilities, Nihal will be greatly missed for his many fine personal qualities. These very qualities were very much to the fore in recent months as he struggled to continue to give his very best in the job that meant so much to him. The large number of tributes on the PFR internal site is a testament to how valued Nihal was as both a colleague and friend within the institute.

    Mark Wohlers and Peter Alspach


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  • More than 100 of New Zealand’s mathematical scientists met in Auckland in late June and early July to use mathematics and statistics to solve industry problems. A week-long workshop was held as a way for companies to pitch their problems to people from around the region who then worked collaboratively to generate practical solutions through modelling, statistical analysis or computation.

    Companies to attend the event included white ware manufacturer Fisher and Paykel who wanted to optimize the operation of their clothes dryer, fresh produce packing company Compac Sorting wanting a solution to a calibration issue with their spectroscopic systems and start-up crime prevention company Eyedentify needing to improve their crime prevention algorithms. Others in attendance presenting problem challenges were dairy giant Fonterra, national grid operator Transpower and farm management group Livestock Improvement Corporation. For more see

    Event organiser Professor Emeritus Graeme Wake says the first workshop was a success with the teams reporting excellent progress at the end of the week. “More work will be required to complete the solutions but follow-on discussions are already being planned” Professor Wake says.

    The collaborative groups transform how industries see and approach problems. It’s a fast, effective and productive avenue for them to use.  Further the large number of postgraduate students present had hands-on experience of handling industry and community based problems using mathematics and statistics.

    Other contributors to the workshops include the NZ Mathematical Society, Callaghan Innovation, the ANZ Industrial and Applied Mathematics Group, KiwiNet, Te Pūnaha Matatini – a Centre of Research Excellence in Complex Systems and Networks, ANZ Industrial and Applied Mathematics group and the Mathematical Sciences Group of AUT University.

    Coverage from the week-long event is in various media. KiwiNet, who partnered running the event with Massey University, provided short videos on Youtube, see

    Also providers like Callaghan Innovation have posted blogs, see


    Pictured are the invited speakers (except Professor Shaun Hendy, University of Auckland who was absent at the time), from left: Dr Maria Bruna (University of Oxford, UK), Professor Emeritus Graeme Wake (Director of the event), Hon Ruth Richardson (Chair of KiwiNET) who opened MINZ-SG, and Dr Boris Baeumer (Chair of the NZ Branch of ANZIAM and University of Otago).

    Pictured are the invited speakers (except Professor Shaun Hendy, University of Auckland who was absent at the time), from left: Dr Maria Bruna (University of Oxford, UK), Professor Emeritus Graeme Wake (Director of the event), Hon Ruth Richardson (Chair of KiwiNET) who opened MINZ-SG, and Dr Boris Baeumer (Chair of the NZ Branch of ANZIAM and University of Otago).


    Graeme Wake

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  • Interested in history of the NZSA? Our online newsletter archive is being extended to include newsletters published prior to 1998.  Available now is the Association’s first newsletter, published in March 1984.  Thanks to Richard Penny for sourcing and scanning the old newsletters!


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  • NZMASP15

    New Zealand Mathematics and Statistics Postgraduate Conference

    Calling all Postgraduate Students studying Mathematics and Statistics …

    visit for information on the annual NZMASP conference, designed to provide a supportive and fun academic environment for students to present their research.

    NZMASP is a great forum to network with fellow postgraduate students, as well providing an opportunity to practice your talk before the NZSA Conference.

    Date: 17-20 November 15
    Venue: Suncourt Hotel and Conference Center, Taupo

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More News

Young Statisticians

Kylie Maxwell, from Statistics NZ, is the Young Statistician’s Representative.

Visit the Young Statistician’s page for more details.

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The mission of the NZSA is to lead New Zealand to value and make intelligent use of statistical thinking and good statistical practice.  Join the NZSA today!

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Last Modified: Tuesday, 10th February 2015