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People News for November 2009

1 November 2009 852 views No Comment

Bob Bell and Chris Volinsky

ASA members Bob Bell and Chris Volinsky—along with their team, BellKor’s Pragmatic Chaos—won the $1 million Netflix Prize for coming up with an algorithm that improved the online movie rental service’s recommendation system.

Other members of the winning team include Martin Chabbert, Michael Jahrer, Yehuda Koren, Martin Piotte, and Andreas Toscher. All team members attended the awards ceremony in New York City on September 21.

Netflix launched the competition in October 2006 and made available to contestants 100 million anonymous movie ratings ranging from one to five stars. All personal information identifying individual Netflix members was removed from the prize data, which contained only movie titles, star ratings, and dates. No text reviews were included. More than 40,000 teams from around the world competed.

The team prepared a system description consisting of three papers, which can be downloaded here. For more information, visit

Michael H. Kutner



Mu Sigma Rho, the national honor society for statistics, presented its 10th Statistical Education Award to Michael H. Kutner of Emory University. This award recognizes excellence in undergraduate or graduate statistical education at the institutional, regional, or national level.

In a career spanning nearly 50 years, Kutner has been a faculty member at Virginia Tech, Texas A&M, The College of William and Mary, the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, and Emory University. He is recognized as an outstanding teacher, mentor, and academic leader, as he has been effective in mentoring students as consultants and young faculty as teachers and researchers. Kutner is a co-author of Applied Linear Statistical Models and Applied Linear Regression Models and has made significant contributions in service to the American Statistical Association and the profession. He has developed and delivered numerous short courses for industry and government and has given many presentations at national and international meetings.

The deadline to nominate someone for the 2010 award is April 1. Nominations can be sent to Roxy Peck, 1510 Third St., Los Osos, CA 93402. The recipient of the award will be notified on or before June 15, 2010, and presented a plaque during JSM in August of 2010. Questions regarding this award can be emailed to Peck at

Emanuel Parzen



Emanuel Parzen retired on August 31, 2009, after more than 30 years of service to the Department of Statistics at Texas A&M University. Parzen earned his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University in 1949 and PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1953. He has served as a statistics faculty member at Columbia, Stanford, and SUNY Buffalo. He also served as visiting faculty at Imperial College London, MIT, IBM, Harvard, and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. He joined the faculty at Texas A&M as a statistics professor in 1978.

Parzen has received many honors, including the Samuel S. Wilks Memorial Medal from the American Statistical Association for outstanding research in time series analysis and his innovative introduction of reproducing kernel spaces, spectral analysis, and spectrum smoothing. He also received the Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching from Texas A&M University and the American Statistical Association’s Noether Senior Scholar Award for research in nonparametric statistics. Parzen is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Institute of Mathematical Statistics, and American Statistical Association. In honor of his career, the Emanuel and Carol Parzen Prize for Statistical Innovation was established by the department of statistics at Texas A&M University in 1994.

Parzen is internationally known as an innovator of time series analysis by reproducing kernel Hilbert spaces; nonparametric and quantile data modeling; spectral and probability density estimation; and philosophy of unification of statistical practice, research, and education. He has published six books and more than 100 research papers.

In recognition of his retirement, Parzen received distinguished professor emeritus status with Texas A&M and was named the inaugural professor in residence of the department of statistics. In this position, he will work with Simon Sheather, department head, to produce a foundational video on the history of statistics. He also will participate in online panel discussions and meet throughout the year with colloquium speakers and departmental visitors. Finally, he will continue his research collaborations with graduate students and faculty.

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