An ASA Hall of Fame
The ASA will celebrate its 175th anniversary in 2014. In preparation, column “175”—written by members of the ASA’s 175th Anniversary Steering Committee and other ASA members—will chronicle the theme chosen for the celebration, status of preparations, activities to take place, and, best yet, how you can get involved in propelling the ASA toward its bicentennial.
Contributing EditorStephen M. Stigler (PhD Berkeley) taught at the University of Wisconsin – Madison before moving in 1979 to The University of Chicago. He served as editor of JASA Theory and Methods from 1978–1981 and president of the Institute for Mathematical Statistics and International Statistical Institute. His publications include the books The History of Statistics (1986) and Statistics on the Table (1999).
On the occasion of this International Year of Statistics, and in anticipation of the 175th anniversary of the ASA in 2014, I offer a list of 20 past ASA members who were influential in bringing us to this point in our history.
No doubt others’ lists would differ and many excellent people have been omitted. Some of these (e.g., R. A. Fisher and Karl Pearson) were never members; others (e.g., Abraham Wald and Jimmie Savage) have influenced the profession greatly without playing a significant role in the ASA.
The list could have been extended with no drop in quality. Hard choices were made to give a list representative of the past membership at its finest; long service to ASA was not sufficient for inclusion. The only rigidly enforced rule was that the member be deceased—no one can complain personally that they were unfairly omitted.
The order of the names is haphazard. Twelve served as presidents of the ASA; the numbers in parentheses are the years of their presidency.
Adolphe Quetelet, Belgian, founder of the International Statistical Congresses. Played a direct role in starting the Royal Statistical Society, and by agreeing to be its first foreign member, he helped the ASA gain international recognition.
Frederick Mosteller (1967), founding chair at Harvard and statesman of statistics.
George Snedecor (1948), founder of the statistical laboratory at Iowa State.
Jerzy Neyman, founder of the statistics department at the University of California at Berkeley and pioneer in mathematical statistics.
Joseph Berkson, biostatistician at the Mayo Clinic and iconoclast (and co-founder of the Society for Stomping on Berkson). Introduced “logit” analysis.
Raymond Pearl (1939), path-breaking biometrician. Studied longevity and nutrition.
Francis Amasa Walker (1883–1896), director of the 1870 U.S. Census. Brought the ASA from a regional discussion club to a national professional society. Established JASA and, in 1896, moved the annual meeting from Boston.
William Kruskal (1982), co-inventor of the Kruskal-Wallis Test, consummate scholar of statistics, editor of encyclopedias.
John Tukey, from his exploratory and confirmatory data analysis to statistical graphics to his terminology (e.g., jackknife and software), he helped shape modern statistical analysis.
W. Allen Wallis (1965), ran the Statistical Research Group at Columbia University during WWII, editor of JASA from 1950–1960, founder of The University of Chicago Statistics Department, undersecretary of state 1985–1989, co-inventor of the Kruskal-Wallis Test.
Herman Hollerith, devised the punch card system that revolutionized the tabulation of the U.S. Census in 1890 and led to the creation of IBM Corp.
W. Edwards Deming, a tireless educator outside the academy, he brought sampling to government, quality assurance to industry, and statistical methods to the military.
Helen Walker (1944), author of an excellent history of statistical methods published in 1929, influential educator who taught at Teachers College of Columbia University.
Edwin B. Wilson (1929), polymath who published on binomial confidence intervals in 1927. Served as co-president of MIT in 1921 before founding the Harvard program in vital statistics and served as secretary of the National Academy of Sciences for 50 years.
William G. Cochran (1953), influential author of books on the design of experiments and sampling; important educator at Iowa State, The Johns Hopkins University, and Harvard.
Gertrude Cox (1956), founded the statistics department at North Carolina State University. Played a key role in starting the departments of statistics and biostatistics at The University of North Carolina.
Albert H. Bowker (1964), founding chair of the Stanford statistics department and, later, chancellor of CUNY and the University of California.
Margaret Martin (1980), helped develop the Current Population Survey. Helped direct several federal statistical offices, from the Bureau of the Budget to the National Academy of Sciences.
Paul Meier, biostatistician and co-inventor of the Kaplan-Meier estimator of survival curves; that paper (in JASA) has been the most-cited paper in statistics.
Harold Hotelling, founder of the programs at Columbia and The University of North Carolina, pioneer in multivariate analysis and resource economics.