Past, Present, and Future of Statistical Science

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ISBN 9781482204964
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  • Provides first-hand reflections on the careers of COPSS awardees
  • Offers perspectives and outlooks on statistics as a discipline
  • Discusses a wide range of topics in statistical research, education, and practice that are of historical, current, and future interest
  • Gives career guidance to young statisticians


Past, Present, and Future of Statistical Science was commissioned in 2013 by the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS) to celebrate its 50th anniversary and the International Year of Statistics. COPSS consists of five charter member statistical societies in North America and is best known for sponsoring prestigious awards in statistics, such as the COPSS Presidents’ award.

Through the contributions of a distinguished group of 50 statisticians who are past winners of at least one of the five awards sponsored by COPSS, this volume showcases the breadth and vibrancy of statistics, describes current challenges and new opportunities, highlights the exciting future of statistical science, and provides guidance to future generations of statisticians. The book is not only about statistics and science but also about people and their passion for discovery.

Distinguished authors present expository articles on a broad spectrum of topics in statistical education, research, and applications. Topics covered include reminiscences and personal reflections on statistical careers, perspectives on the field and profession, thoughts on the discipline and the future of statistical science, and advice for young statisticians. Many of the articles are accessible not only to professional statisticians and graduate students but also to undergraduate students interested in pursuing statistics as a career and to all those who use statistics in solving real-world problems. A consistent theme of all the articles is the passion for statistics enthusiastically shared by the authors. Their success stories inspire, give a sense of statistics as a discipline, and provide a taste of the exhilaration of discovery, success, and professional accomplishment.

Table of Contents

The History of COPSS
A brief history of the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS) Ingram Olkin

Reminiscences and Personal Reflections on Career Paths
Reminiscences of the Columbia University Department of Mathematical Statistics in the late 1940s Ingram Olkin
A career in statistics Herman Chernoff
". . . how wonderful the field of statistics is . . ." David R. Brillinger
An unorthodox journey to statistics: Equity issues, remarks on multiplicity Juliet Popper Shaffer
Statistics before and after my COPSS Prize Peter J. Bickel
The accidental biostatistics professor Donna Brogan
Developing a passion for statistics Bruce G. Lindsay
Reflections on a statistical career and their implications R. Dennis Cook
Science mixes it up with statistics Kathryn Roeder
Lessons from a twisted career path Jeffrey S. Rosenthal
Promoting equity Mary Gray

Perspectives on the Field and Profession
Statistics in service to the nation Stephen E. Fienberg
Where are the majors? Iain M. Johnstone
We live in exciting times Peter Hall
The bright future of applied statistics Rafael A. Irizarry
The road travelled: From a statistician to a statistical scientist Nilanjan Chatterjee
Reflections on a journey into statistical genetics and genomics Xihong Lin
Reflections on women in statistics in Canada Mary E. Thompson
"The whole women thing" Nancy Reid
Reflections on diversity Louise Ryan

Reflections on the Discipline
Why does statistics have two theories? Donald A.S. Fraser
Conditioning is the issue James O. Berger
Statistical inference from a Dempster–Shafer perspective Arthur P. Dempster
Nonparametric Bayes David B. Dunson
How do we choose our default methods? Andrew Gelman
Serial correlation and Durbin–Watson bounds T.W. Anderson
A non-asymptotic walk in probability and statistics Pascal Massart
The past’s future is now: What will the present’s future bring? Lynne Billard
Lessons in biostatistics Norman E. Breslow
A vignette of discovery Nancy Flournoy
Statistics and public health research Ross L. Prentice
Statistics in a new era for finance and health care Tze Leung Lai
Meta-analyses: Heterogeneity can be a good thing Nan M. Laird
Good health: Statistical challenges in personalizing disease prevention Alice S. Whittemore
Buried treasures Michael A. Newton
Survey sampling: Past controversies, current orthodoxy, future paradigms Roderick J.A. Little
Environmental informatics: Uncertainty quantification in the environmental sciences Noel A. Cressie
A journey with statistical genetics Elizabeth Thompson
Targeted learning: From MLE to TMLE Mark van der Laan
Statistical model building, machine learning, and the ah-ha moment Grace Wahba
In praise of sparsity and convexity Robert J. Tibshirani
Features of Big Data and sparsest solution in high confidence set Jianqing Fan
Rise of the machines Larry A. Wasserman
A trio of inference problems that could win you a Nobel Prize in statistics (if you help fund it) Xiao-Li Meng

Advice for the Next Generation
Inspiration, aspiration, ambition C.F. Jeff Wu
Personal reflections on the COPSS Presidents’ Award Raymond J. Carroll
Publishing without perishing and other career advice Marie Davidian
Converting rejections into positive stimuli Donald B. Rubin
The importance of mentors Donald B. Rubin
Never ask for or give advice, make mistakes, accept mediocrity, enthuse Terry Speed
Thirteen rules Bradley Efron

Downloads / Updates

Resource OS Platform Updated Description Instructions Cross Platform October 22, 2013 Code and Data for Iain Johnstone’s chapter