Today Judea Pearl gave a seminar in my department. He is a professor at UCLA, and the talk was titled “The mathematics of causal inference.” Now, I have a PhD in math and I work at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health doing epidemiology research using causal inference methods, so this talk was basically aimed at me.
I was also the target audience for this talk because Judea Pearl is an exuberant man, even though he is in his late 70s. Last time I saw him give a seminar, he burst into song at one point. That didn’t happen this time, but he did wax poetical about the “joy” he gets from this kind of reasoning and the fundamental tools he was providing for us to use to do science.
Random note: to many people, mathematics and statistics are not really two separate fields, but I can tell you right now that mathematicians and statisticians see their fields as almost diametrically opposed. There were some statisticians in the audience of this talk, but I do not think they enjoyed it as much as I did.
So, yes, I did actually write in the margin of my notes “I love this man”. Because there is nothing more attractive to me than unabashed nerdiness. And that clearly needs to become a tag right now because it seems to be all I ever say.