Past, Present, and Future of Statistical Science: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Past, Present, and Future of Statistical Science

1st Edition

Edited by Xihong Lin, Christian Genest, David L. Banks, Geert Molenberghs, David W. Scott, Jane-Ling Wang

Chapman and Hall/CRC

646 pages | 37 B/W Illus.

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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.


"This collection of reminiscences, musings on the state of the art, and advice for young statisticians makes for compelling reading. There are 52 contributions from eminent statisticians who have won a Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies award. Each is a short, focused chapter and so one could even say this is ideal bedtime (or coffee break) reading. Anyone interested in the history of statistics will know that much has been written about the early days but little about the field since the Second World War. This book goes some way to redress this and is all the more valuable for coming from the horse’s mouth…the closing chapter, the shortest of all, from Brad Efron: a list of "thirteen rules for giving a really bad talk". This made me laugh out loud and should be posted on the walls of all conferences. I shall leave the final word to Peter Bickel: "We should glory in this time when statistical thinking pervades almost every field of endeavor. It is really a lot of fun."

—Robert Grant, in Significance, April 2017

"This volume captures a broad range of views on what makes statistics interesting–with a focus that ranges across the mathematics of statistics, its partnership with computing, the role of statistics in science, the insights that it can provide into diverse areas of science, and the competing philosophies that underpin statistical practice. The contributions vary widely in their sophistication, from those that a first-year undergraduate may read and find interesting to those that make strong mathematical and/or statistical demands."

International Statistical Review, 2015

"This work celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS) and the International Year of Statistics. … Each contributing author is a past winner of a COPSS-sponsored award. This engaging, informative book will be useful for students and researchers planning on entering careers in statistics. … Highly recommended."

CHOICE, May 2015

"… must-read for statisticians and provide[s] valuable insight for people who are training the next generation of statistical professionals … The book features 50 chapter authors, each of whom is a recipient of at least one of the awards sponsored by COPSS. It is a distinguished list of contributors, and not surprisingly, the book does not disappoint. … The COPSS book explores this present vibrancy and vitality across a range of topics that reflect the vast diversity of statistical practice. … What is particularly useful about this book—in my view—is the documentation of the stories of some statisticians, stories that have relevance for all of us, but perhaps especially for those new to the profession. … Indeed, for those new to our profession, the COPSS book presents an entire section directed to them titled Advice for the Next Generation. … the book contains some insightful nuggets about the future. … Fifty great thinkers about statistics provide the reader of the COPSS book with reminiscences to learn from, technical questions to tackle, and challenges that inspire."

The American Statistician, February 2015

"Nat Schenker, president of the American Statistical Association, had this to say about Past, Present, and Future of Statistical Science: ‘It is a veritable feast, a 50-course buffet prepared by many of the most distinguished statisticians of our day. Enjoyable eating from start to end, and good for you, too.’"

Significance Recommended Reading, December 2014

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

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MATHEMATICS / Probability & Statistics / General