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Obituaries for September 2022

1 September 2022 No Comment

Nozer Darabsha Singpurwalla

Submitted by Kimberly F. Sellers, Refik Soyer, and Thomas Mazzuchi

    Nozer Darabsha Singpurwalla

    Nozer Darabsha Singpurwalla, 83, passed away on July 22, 2022, at his home in Washington, DC, surrounded by family. He was born in Hubli, India.

    Nozer immigrated to the United States as a young man and earned an MS in engineering from Rutgers University and a PhD in engineering from New York University under the direction of John Kao. He met Norah Jackson (who had recently immigrated from England) during a dance at Disneyland, and they married in 1969. Nozer and Norah lived most of their married life in Arlington, Virginia, where they raised their two children, Rachel and Darius.

     Nozer was a faculty member at The George Washington University in Washington, DC, for more than 40 years, serving as distinguished research professor in both the department of statistics and department of operations research (later engineering management and systems engineering, respectively) and director of GWU’s Institute for Reliability and Risk Analysis; he further held a courtesy appointment with the GWU department of decision sciences.

    With expertise in fields including reliability theory, risk analysis, Bayesian statistical inference, quality control, and statistical aspects of software engineering, Nozer authored/coauthored three books, co-edited six additional references, and published more than 200 manuscripts. He was a prolific researcher who won prestigious grants and contracts with agencies, including the National Science Foundation, National Institute for Standards and Technology, Office of Naval Research, Army Research Office, and NASA. He also held various secondary appointments and consultancies with laboratories, institutes, and companies nationwide.

    While at GWU, Nozer further served as a visiting professor at Carnegie Mellon University, Stanford University, the University of California at Berkeley, Florida State University, the Santa Fe Institute, and the University of Oxford (UK). During the fall of 1991, he was the first C. C. Garvin Visiting Endowed Professor in the Mathematical Sciences at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and, in 1993, he was awarded a Rockefeller Foundation Grant as a scholar in residence at the Bellagio, Italy Center.

    Nozer’s extensive scholarship and research carried over into his teaching and service activities. He had an impressive track record as a PhD adviser to more than 40 students, sometimes overseeing multiple students graduating in the same year. His scholarly service meanwhile included a broad array of editorial boards, including those of the Journal of the American Statistical Association, International Statistical Review, Operations Research, Technometrics, and The American Statistician.

    Nozer retired from The George Washington University in 2013 and served another eight years as faculty with the City University of Hong Kong. From 2013–2017, he held a joint appointment as chair professor in the department of system engineering and engineering management and the department of management sciences. He then transitioned to other faculty roles in the school of data science from 2017–2021; thereafter, he was an honorary professor in the department of management sciences.

    Nozer was revered internationally for his scholarship, particularly regarding foundational aspects of reliability, risk analysis, and Bayesian statistics. His efforts earned him distinctions such as fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, American Statistical Association, and American Association for the Advancement of Science and elected member of the International Statistical Institute. He also was recognized as the 1984 recipient of the US Army’s S. S. Wilks Award for Contributions to Statistical Methodologies in Army Research, Development, and Testing; the first recipient of The George Washington University’s Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Prize for Faculty Scholarship in 1992; and an ASA/NSF/NIST Senior Research Fellow in 1993. In 2011, he was recognized with the Medal of Excellence from his alma mater, Rutgers University.

    Nozer had a way with words and always enjoyed a spirited debate. His colleagues will most remember his sense of humor and ability to make the complex appear simple. He loved music (Indian, classical, and opera), history and politics, and world travel with his family. He is survived by his wife, Norah (née Jackson); his sister, Khorshed Tantra, and her family; his children, Rachel (Peter) and Darius (Jennifer); and his beloved grandchildren, Veronika and Cyrus.

    William E. Winkler

    Submitted by Tommy Wright, US Census Bureau

      William E. Winkler

      William (Bill) E. Winkler, a widely respected colleague and friend, passed away June 30, 2022.

      Bill was born November 11, 1946, in Cincinnati, Ohio, to William and Betty Winkler. He grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and earned a BS in mathematics (1968) from Michigan State University. He later earned a PhD in probability theory (1973) from The Ohio State University.

      Bill served as assistant professor of statistics at the University of Pittsburgh (1974–1979) before joining the US Energy Department Energy Information Administration as a mathematical statistician (1980–1987). In 1987, he joined the Census Bureau’s Statistical Research Division (now Center for Statistical Research and Methodology), where he served as principal researcher and leader of the Record Linkage and Machine Learning Research Group until his retirement in 2019. Starting in 2009, he was also an affiliated faculty member in computational and data sciences at George Mason University.

      Bill was recognized internationally for his collaborative research contributions to record linkage (entity resolution), statistical modeling, editing and imputation, privacy and confidentiality, and multipurpose and multiway sampling. In many areas of Census Bureau daily work, one sees benefit from his passionate work with colleagues in record linkage using enhanced versions of the software packages Matcher and BigMatch. His name is attached to the related terms “Jaro-Winkler String/Sequence Comparator,” “Jaro-Winkler distance,” and “Jaro-Winkler similarity.”

      Bill’s work helped trigger a renaissance that motivated other researchers to focus on further development of the probabilistic and statistical theory at the foundations of record linkage. Record linkage methodology is key to current and future Census Bureau work as it seeks to make greater use of administrative records and other data sources to enhance and create more data products from its censuses and sample surveys.

      Bill was frequently the keynote speaker at conferences, and he authored or coauthored many highly cited publications, including the book Data Quality and Record Linkage Techniques. He also taught short courses on record linkage and cleaning administrative data, as well as actively serving on numerous expert panels and committees that addressed the following issues of national importance:

      • Challenges in implementing and maintaining secure and accurate state voter registration databases
      • The need to replace social security numbers with more secure identifiers
      • A proposed public-use database related to airline safety

      Bill’s professional contributions led to his election as a fellow of the American Statistical Association in 1996.

      He led, worked with, and mentored many colleagues and intern graduate students. A knock on Bill’s door or a telephone call to him was always followed by a sincere smile and the response, “How can I help you?” And he did! He gave attention to his work and others, rather than to himself.

      Bill loved to read science fiction and everything technical and mathematical. He enjoyed long walks on the beach and an occasional beer on the deck. He also liked playing tennis as a college student. He was an avid runner and ran in the local races in Washington, DC, especially around the Tidal Basin.

      He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Beth; two children, William F. and Stephanie; four grandchildren; and one great grandchild.

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