Spring 2019

Graphical models, Exchangeable models and Graphons


Graphical model (GM) is a succinct way to represent a complex probability distribution on a collection of random variables. Such a probability distribution factorizes according to the graph underlying the GM. As such, the graph structure of the GM encodes interdependencies among the variables, making GMs a powerful and general framework within which to reason about high-dimensional data. The combinatorial structure brings to the fore the computational aspect underlying statistical tasks, helping to design various simple-to-implement and scalable statistical inference algorithms. As a result, GM are extensively used in practice across domains including communication (e.g. LDPC codes), control (e.g. Kalman filters), social science (e.g. denoising surveys), natural language processing (e.g. topic model ), signal processing (e.g. speech recognition), image processing (e.g. deep graphical model), machine learning (e.g. recommendation systems), biology and sciences at large (gene regulatory network, causal inference). On the other hand, it has driven exciting intellectual quest of understanding the boundary of computational and statistical tradeoffs as well as efficient inference algorithms. detection.
The workshop will be preceded by a one day bootcamp on Sunday August 18, with the goal of presenting the basic techniques, definitions and goals in several of the communities.


The workshop will take place at MIT on August 19-21, 2019. Bootcamp on August 18. Both are in room 2-190.


  • Guy Bresler (MIT)
  • Tamara Broderick (MIT)
  • Elchanan Mossel (MIT)
  • Devavrat Shah (MIT) -- Lead organizer
  • Caroline Uhler (MIT)

Location and maps

Click here for location of room 2-190 on interactive campus map

Directions to 2-190 - MIT Mathematics, 160 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA:
Once arriving to 160 Memorial drive, walk up the stairs outside (library to your right) and enter the double doors straight ahead. Once inside, turn left and walk to the end of the hall. At the end of the hall you will enter building 2 (math department). here will be a sculpture (click here for photo) directly in front of you with stairs. Turn left to walk all the way to a huge window facing the river and then turn right and 2-190 will be at the end of this corridor.

Local restaurants and coffee shops

The Kendall Square area has many good food and coffee options. Here are a few options within walking distance of the workshop.

  • Blue Bottle ($$): Speciality Coffee shop.
  • CAVA ($): Bowls of grains and greens with a greek flare.
  • Catalyst ($$$): Elegant American cuisine.
  • Commonwealth Market & Restaurant ($$$): Trendy, rustic market & American eatery.
  • Cafe Luna ($$): CafĂ©/Lounge for sandwiches & brunch.
  • Area 4 ($$): Artisanal pizza and coffee.
  • Abigail’s ($$): American sandwiches and BBQ.
  • Vester ($$): Hip cafe with food options (sandwiches, soups and salads)
  • Dumpling Daughter ($): Modern chinese
  • Cambridge Brewing Company ($$): Pub with local craft beer from on-site brewery.
  • Sulmona ($$): Modern Italian dining.
  • Legal Sea Foods ($$): Seafood restaurant. Popular with tourists to Boston.
  • Helmand ($$): Afghani Restaurant. Dinner only, reservation needed.
  • The Friendly Toast ($$): Hip, retro breakfast spot.
  • Mamaleh's Delicatessen ($): Hip Jewish-ish deli
  • Saloniki Greek ($): Hip, Greek plates, Gyros & more
  • Clover food Lab ($): Casual, fast-food vegetarian using local ingredients.
  • Tatte ($): Gourmet high-end bakery, sandwiches, salads, and coffee shop.
  • Darwin's ($): Coffee and sandwich shop.
  • Flour Bakery ($): Coffee and high-end pastry shop.
  • Coffee: From the list above, Vester, Darwin's, Area 4, and Flour also double as good coffee shops.