Skip to main content

Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin

Menu Search

Trinity College Dublin By using this website you consent to the use of cookies in accordance with the Trinity cookie policy. For more information on cookies see our cookie policy.

Profile Photo

Dr. Brett Houlding

Assistant Professor (Statistics)


From 2000 to 2004 I obtained an undergraduate Master of Mathematics (MMath I class honours) from Trevelyan College, Durham University, UK. I then proceeded as a PhD student (EPSRC funded) of Trevelyan College, Durham University in the field of Statistics. This was under the supervision of Prof. Franciscus Petrus Antonius Coolen of the Department of Mathematical Sciences. In 2008 my thesis titled 'Sequential Decision Making with Adaptive Utility' was successfully defended at a viva voce examination and in 2009 I was awarded a Doctorate of Philosophy from Durham University. In May 2008 I joined Trinity College Dublin as a post-doctoral research fellow within the Center for Telecommunications Value-Chain (CTVR) research group under the supervision of Prof. Simon Paul Wilson, this was further followed in May 2009 as a research fellow within the STATICA group headed by the same Prof. Wilson. In October 2011 I was appointed to the post of Assistant Professor in Statistics (5 year term) within the School of Computer Science and Statistics of Trinity College Dublin. The position was later confirmed to an established academic post of the School of Computer Science and Statistics in October 2015.
  Biological Modeling   Biostatistical methods   Criminal Statistics   Data Analysis   Decision Sciences   Forensic Law   Game Theory   Operations Research   Optimization   Probability   RELIABILITY THEORY   Risk Factors/Analysis   Signal processing   Simulation and modelling transportation networks   Statistical and simulation methodologies   Statistics   Stochastic Processes   Utilities
Details Date
Reviewer for Journal of the American Statistical Association, European Journal of Operational Research, Structural Safety, Journal of Risk and Reliability, Environmetrics, Artificial Intelligence in Medicine, Journal of Statistical Planning and Inference, Quality and Reliability Engineering, AISTATS, International Journal of Approximate Reasoning, Open Journal of Statistics, among many others.
Consultant to Tictoc Platforms Ltd, Solovisor Ltd, and Customer Dimension Analytics through Enterprise Ireland Innovation Vouchers. 2011-2015
Details Date From Date To
Executive member of the Irish Statistical Association
Bolger D, and Houlding B, Deriving the Probability of a Linear Opinion Pooling Method being Superior to a set of Alternatives, Reliability Engineering and System Safety, 158, 2017, p41 - 49, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI  URL
Bolger D, and Houlding B, Reliability Updating in Linear Opinion Pooling for Multiple Decision Makers, Journal of Risk and Reliability (Proc. IMechE, Part O), 230, (3), 2016, p309 - 322, Journal Article, PUBLISHED
McMeel C, and Houlding B, Incorporating Uncertain Costs within a Series of Sequential Probability Ratio Tests, Open Journal of Statistics, 6, 2016, p882 - 897, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI  URL
Houlding B, Coolen FPA, Bolger D, A Conjugate Class of Utility Functions for Sequential Decision Problems, Risk Analysis, 35, (9), 2015, p1611 - 1622, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
Costello M.J, Lane M, Wilson S, Houlding B, Factors influencing when species are first named and estimating global species richness, Global Ecology and Conservation, 4, 2015, p243 - 254, Notes: [Export Date: 28 August 2015], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text  DOI  URL
Costello MJ, Houlding B, Wilson SP, As in other taxa, relatively fewer beetles are being described by an increasing number of authors: response to Löbl and Leschen, Systematic Entomology, 39, (3), 2014, p395-399 , Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI  URL
Costello MJ, Houlding B, Joppa, LN, Further evidence of more taxonomists discovering new species, and that most species have been named: response to Bebber et al. (2014), New Phytologist, 202, (3), 2014, p739 - 740, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI  URL
Costello M, Wilson SP, Houlding B, More Taxonomists Describing Significantly Fewer Species per Unit Effort May Indicate That Most Species Have Been Discovered, Systematic Biology, 62, (4), 2013, p616 - 624, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI  URL
Houlding B, and Haslett J, Scheduling Parallel Conference Sessions: An Application of a Novel Hybrid Clustering Algorithm for Ensuring Constrained Cardinality, Journal of Applied Statistics, 40, (5), 2013, p961 - 971, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
B. Houlding, F.P.A. Coolen, Nonparametric Predictive Utility Inference, European Journal of Operational Research, 221, 2012, p222 - 230, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text  DOI

Page 1 of 3


I have many areas of research interest within Statistics and Operations Research, including both application and theoretical development. Recent work has focused on estimating the total numbers of species of different taxa, which has been joint work with Simon Wilson of Trinity College and Mark Costello of the Leigh Marine Laboratory, University of Auckland. Currently this is based on data from the dates of first reporting of different species, starting with the initial work of Linnaeus. This question is important in discussion of species extinction rates and biodiversity. We form part of a global team, including researchers in Canada, France, the United States and Australia, that is evaluating the many different methods of estimating species numbers. Other/General Interests: I have a strong interest in the foundations of statistics, and specifically, normative Bayesian statistical decision theory, with previous work in this area focusing on the generalisation of adaptive utility that permits uncertainty in not only a decision maker's beliefs, but also their preferences. A brief outline of work conducted in this area is summarised: Theories of sequential decision making have been developed to consider coherent decision making strategies over several decision epochs when actual decision outcomes are a priori uncertain. Such theories have many areas of application, e.g., experimental design and policy development, with contributions being made by researchers in mathematics, statistics, economics, philosophy and psychology. Traditionally, all uncertainties are modelled via precise probabilities, and all preferences over decision outcomes via known utilities. It is recognised, however, that indeterminacy may complicate assessment of such probabilities and/or utilities, especially when the decision maker has little or no prior experience within the context of the decision problem under consideration. As such, recent attention has focused on developing decision making algorithms that are able to accommodate imprecise probabilities (where precise values are replaced by intervals) and/or uncertain utilities (where fixed quantities are replaced by random variables). This then allows indeterminacy to be taken into account, generalising classical theories of decision making, and permitting the creation of robust Bayesian methods for within statistical decision theory. However, further implications are the effects these generalisations have on the axiomatic foundations of the theory, and also on traditional decision theory concepts such as value of information and risk aversion. Finally, I also have a growing interest in the use of statistical arguments for policy development.