George E. P. Box bigraphy, stories - American statistician

George E. P. Box : biography

18 October 1919 - 28 March 2013

George Edward Pelham Box FRS (18 October 1919 – 28 March 2013) was a statistician, who worked in the areas of quality control, time-series analysis, design of experiments, and Bayesian inference.

Box published books including Statistics for Experimenters (2nd ed., 2005), Time Series Analysis: Forecasting and Control (4th ed., 2008, with Gwilym Jenkins and Gregory C. Reinsel) and Bayesian inference in statistical analysis. (1973, with George C. Tiao). His name is associated with results in statistics such as Box–Jenkins models, Box–Cox transformations, Box–Behnken designs, and others.

Box wrote that "essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful" in his book on response surface methodology with Norman R. Draper.Box, George E. P.; Norman R. Draper (1987). Empirical Model-Building and Response Surfaces, p. 424, Wiley. ISBN 0-471-81033-9. (more details at wikiquote)

Biographical history

He was born in Gravesend, Kent, England. Upon entering university he began to study chemistry, but was called up for service before finishing. During World War II, he performed for the British Army experiments exposing small animals to poison gas. To analyze the results of his experiments, he taught himself statistics from available texts. After the war, he enrolled at University College London and obtained a bachelor's degree in mathematics and statistics. He received a Ph.D. from the University of London in 1953, under the supervision of Egon Pearson.

From 1948 to 1956, Box worked as a statistician for Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI). While at ICI, he took a leave of absence for a year and served as a visiting professor at the University of North Carolina at Raleigh (now North Carolina State University). He later went to Princeton University where he served as Director of the Statistical Research Group.

In 1960, Box moved to the University of Wisconsin–Madison to create the Department of Statistics. He was appointed Vilas Research Professor of Statistics (the highest honor accorded to any faculty member at the University of Wisconsin–Madison) in 1980. Box and Bill Hunter co-founded the Center for Quality and Productivity Improvement at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1984. Box officially retired in 1992, becoming an Emeritus Professor.

Box married Joan Fisher, the second of Ronald Fisher's five daughters. In 1978, Joan Fisher Box published a biography of Ronald Fisher, with substantial collaboration of Box.Box, Joan Fisher (1978) R. A. Fisher: The Life of a Scientist , ISBN 0-471-09300-9 Box married Claire Quist in 1985.

Box died on 28 March 2013. He was 93 years old.

Professional recognition: offices and awards

Box served as President of the American Statistical Association in 1978 and of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics in 1979. He received the Shewhart Medal from the American Society for Quality Control in 1968, the Wilks Memorial Award from the American Statistical Association in 1972, the R. A. Fisher Lectureship in 1974, and the Guy Medal in Gold from the Royal Statistical Society in 1993. Box was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1974 and a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1979.


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