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Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

5 March 2009

The Graduate School of Education celebrates MLwiN's 20th birthday.

MLwiN cake
Colleagues, collaborators and friends from the Graduate School of Education gathered on Wednesday 4th March 2009 to celebrate the 20th birthday of MLwiN, the pioneering software package used world-wide for conducting advanced statistical analysis called multilevel modelling.

It's been great for us to relocate here, we are all really happy, the Graduate School has been a great home for us as has BIPA (the Bristol Institute of Public Affairs) and the wider University of Bristol. We are working closely with colleagues from other disciplines such as Geography, Economics, Veterinary Science and Social Medicine.

Professor Jon Rasbash
Multilevel modelling has rapidly become established as the appropriate tool for modelling data with complex hierarchical structures. It is important for extending understanding of social, biological and other sciences beyond that which can be obtained through single level modelling. Multilevel modelling is now being used in Education, Medical science, Demography, Economics, Agriculture and many other areas.

The Centre for Multilevel Modelling (CMM), based in the Graduate School of Education, has pioneered exciting multilevel techniques for 20 years and continues to be at the leading-edge of developments. The centre’s  MLwiN software has 6,300 research users world-wide and is listed (since 2001) in 800 ISI Web of Science peer reviewed journal articles as the analytical tool used. Additionally the MLwiN software is used by national bodies such as The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) and The Office for National Statistics (ONS), and the evaluation of major government initiatives such as SURESTART and The Children’s Fund.

During the celebrations, Professor Jon Rasbash, Director of CMM, spoke briefly about the beginning of the software, and related that it was first created during the early days of his collaboration with Professor Harvey Goldstein (who is still part of the CMM team) and Professor Michael Healy. Michael is now in his 80s, and as a young man worked with the famous statistician, Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher, this lineage bringing to mind the saying 'standing on the shoulders of giants'.

The CMM team, originally based at the Institute of Education in London, moved to the Graduate School of Education at the University of Bristol in 2005, a move which has been a great success and has cemented collaboration:  "It's been great for us to relocate here, we are all really happy, the Graduate School has been a great home for us as has BIPA (the Bristol Institute of Public Affairs) and the wider University of Bristol. We are working closely with colleagues from other disciplines such as Geography, Economics, Veterinary Science and Social Medicine".

Jon finished by thanking colleagues for their commitment to the centre and saying the Graduate School of Education will be "a great place to spend the next 20 years."

For more information about MLwiN and the CMM visit: http://www.cmm.bristol.ac.uk

Research Workshop in Multilevel Modelling, 7th-9th September 2009
This is a new workshop, adapted from the popular 'Getting Started' workshop. It provides an opportunity for a small group of researchers to analyse their own multilevel datasets with support from the CMMteam, and to get advice on how to interpret and present their findings. For further details on this workshop and how to apply for it, visit theCMM workshop page.

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