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M. J. Bayarri

M. J. Bayarri (1956–2014) was born in Valencia, Spain. She received bachelor's, master's, and doctorate degrees in mathematics, all from the University of Valencia. She began as an assistant professor and then became a full professor at her alma mater.

Bayarri won a Fulbright fellowship to attend Carnegie Mellon University in 1984, which marked the beginning of routine visits to the United States. She became a visiting professor at Purdue University, an adjunct professor at Duke University, and leader of the research program at the Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute (SAMSI). She coauthored books on Bayesian statistics and biostatistics and coauthored numerous research articles, including some award-winning papers. Her main areas of research included selection models, weighted distributions, and Bayesian analysis of queuing systems.

Aside from her published contributions, she held multiple leadership roles. For example, Bayarri served as President of the International Society for Bayesian Analysis (ISBA) and as the principal investigator of Biostatnet, a network of biostatistical researchers. Her critical skills shined as Coordinating Editor of the Journal of Statistical Planning and Inference and as an award-winning food critic. In 1997, she was elected as a fellow of the American Statistical Association, and in 2008, she was elected as a fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics.


Allan Birnbaum

Allan Birnbaum (1923–1976) was born in San Francisco, California. He completed a premedical program prior to obtaining his PhD in mathematical statistics from Columbia University in 1954. There, among other projects, he worked on developing statistical methods applicable to the social sciences. In 1959, he joined the faculty of New York University, where he would teach statistics.

He published a total of 41 papers, but the paper published in 1962 stands out as his most significant contribution to the field of statistical theory. In this publication, he advocated for the likelihood principle, providing proof that the same inference can be made across two experiments that provided proportional likelihood functions. His approach departed from that of Abraham Wald and Erich Leo Lehmann, who influenced his dissertation.

Although met simultaneously with praise and opposition, his work had an impact on meta-analysis and predictions with missing data. Notably, renowned statistician Leonard Jimmie Savage regarded Birnbaum's work on the likelihood principle as highly influential in the field of statistics.

Birnbaum also published in the areas of classification and discrimination, and he applied his medical background to research on experimental genetics. He held faculty positions at Stanford University, New York University, and Cambridge University. The last position he held was chair of statistics at City, University of London. He was honored with election to fellowship by the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, the American Statistical Association, and the Institute of Mathematical Statistics.

Birnbaum is remembered as a deep thinker and dedicated father.


David Harold Blackwell

David Harold Blackwell (1919–2010) was a world-renowned statistician and mathematician. At age 16, he began attending the University of Illinois, where he obtained a master's degree in mathematics and then a PhD in statistics at age 22. Shortly after, he joined Princeton University as a visiting fellow, becoming the university's first African-American faculty member and paving the way for future generations.

Blackwell is best known for developing the Rao—Blackwell theorem, used in statistics, and the Blackwell renewal theorem, used in engineering. In regard to Markov decision processes, he introduced the concepts of Blackwell optimality and positive and negative dynamic programs. His contributions also include pioneering texts, such as Basic Statistics, one of the first texts on Bayesian statistics, and Theory of Games and Statistical Decisions, which he coauthored with M. A. Girshick. Additionally, in 1949, he coauthored a paper that helped lay the groundwork for Bayesian sequential analysis. He published over 80 papers in many fields, including game theory, probability theory, and mathematical statistics.

Blackwell's contributions are also reflected in the honors bestowed upon him and in his leadership roles in prominent organizations. In 1976, he was elected an honorary fellow of the Royal Statistical Society, and in 1979, he won the John von Neumann Theory Prize. He also held 12 honorary degrees and was the first African-American man elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Additionally, he served as vice president of the American Statistical Association, the American Mathematical Society, and the International Statistical Institute.


Augustin-Louis Cauchy

Augustin-Louis Cauchy (1789–1857) was born in Paris, France. He obtained a degree in engineering with honors from Ecole Polytechnique, where he would later teach mathematics. While working as a military engineer, he published two papers on polyhedra, one of which was a solution to a problem presented to him by Joseph-Louis Lagrange. In 1816, he won the Grand Prix for his work on wave propagation.

Cauchy's contributions were numerous and far reaching, as evident by the many concepts and theorems named after him. Some examples include the Cauchy criterion for convergence, Cauchy's theorem for finite groups, the Cauchy distribution, and the Cauchy stress tensor. His contributions were so vast that once all his work was collected, it comprised 27 volumes. His name is engraved on the Eiffel Tower, along with 71 other scientists and mathematicians.


Nathan Mantel

Nathan Mantel (1919–2002) was an American biostatistician who grew up in New York. He served in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1946 and then joined the National Cancer Institute as a statistical consultant in 1947. He would remain there for over 26 years. During this time, he was presented with problems from many fields, which led to his diverse publications and contributions. He is remembered for his outstanding problem-solving skills and brilliance.

Mantel is best known for his 1959 collaboration with William M. Haenszel, which introduced the Mantel—Haenszel method for obtaining odds ratios for stratified data and a test of equality across strata. In 1966, Mantel developed the log-rank test and, through a collaboration in 1974, extended this to data involving transient states. In another collaboration, he helped develop a procedure for testing carcinogenic agents; this paper defined a safe dosage level that was temporarily adopted by the Food and Drug Administration. Mantel also contributed to the development of the polychotomous logistic regression model and methods used to explore temporal and spatial clustering of diseases.

Mantel received many honors recognizing his contributions. He was elected an honorary fellow of the Royal Statistical Society and received the Superior Service Award from the National Institutes of Health. He was also a fellow of the American Statistical Association, which in 2002 created a lifetime achievement award in his name.