Introduction to maximum likelihood using TMB

This class is full.  To be put on a waiting list, please contact Charlie Belinsky at

The course reviews probability theory and concepts and covers applications using Template Model Builder (TMB), primarily through RTMB.  RTMB is an R package that allows you to use TMB, a modern software tool for fitting of nonlinear and non-normal statistical models by maximum likelihood. TMB is particularly useful for models with random effects, including state space models, and is increasingly being used in fishery stock assessments, spatial models, and fitting of other ecological models. Developing models in TMB requires some knowledge of C++, but by using RTMB you can use TMB without learning C++ coding, although you will need to do computer programming in R.  Students will need to install software used in the course prior to the course start date. This can be involved so enrollment more than a week before the course start date is highly recommended. 

Instructor: Dr. James Bence

Course Format and Sections

The class is synchronous and online.  There will be eight class meetings, each from 10am-12:30pm EST.  The class meetings are Tuesday through Friday December 5-8 and December 12-15, 2023.

Technology requirements

The course will be taught using R Studio, R, TMB, and emacs (using tmb modes).  This software is all freely available and instructions/assistance for installation will be provided prior to class to enrolled students.

Purchasing the class

You can purchase the class using a credit card or ACH at the QFC Storefront

MSU Guest Account (for non-MSU affiliated students)

Every student in the class needs an MSU account.  If you are not affiliated with MSU then you can get an MSU Guest Account here.

For questions, to pay by check, or to purchase classes in bulk contact Charlie Belinsky at 517-355-0126 or