Wassily Hoeffding bigraphy, stories - American statistician

Wassily Hoeffding : biography

June 12, 1914 - February 28, 1991

Wassily Hoeffding (June 12, 1914 – February 28, 1991) was a Finnish statistician and probabilist. Hoeffding was one of the founders of nonparametric statistics, in which Hoeffding contributed the idea and basic results on U-statistics.Wassily Hoeffding (1948) "A class of statistics with asymptotically normal distributions". Annals of Statistics, 19, 293–325. (Partially reprinted in: Kotz, S., Johnson, N.L. (1992) Breakthroughs in Statistics, Vol I, pp 308–334. Springer-Verlag. ISBN 0-387-94037-5)Sen, P.K (1992) "Introduction to Hoeffding (1948) A Class of Statistics with Asymptotically Normal Distribution". In: Kotz, S., Johnson, N.L. Breakthroughs in Statistics, Vol I, pp 299–307. Springer-Verlag. ISBN 0-387-94037-5.

In probability theory, Hoeffding's inequality provides an upper bound on the probability for the sum of random variables to deviate from its expected value.Wassily Hoeffding (1963) Probability inequalities for sums of bounded random variables, Journal of the American Statistical Association, 58 (301), 13–30. ()


In 1948, he introduced the concept of U-statistics.

See the collected works of Wassily Hoeffding.The Collected Works of Wassily Hoeffding (1994), N. I. Fisher and P. K. Sen, eds., Springer-Verlag, New York.

Personal life

Hoeffding was born in Mustamäki, Grand Duchy of Finland which was part of the Russian empire. His parents were both Danish and his father's uncle was the Danish philosopher Harald Høffding. He immigrated with his mother to the United States in 1946.


  • Masstabinvariante Korrelationstheorie, 1940
  • On the distribution of the rank correlation coefficient t when the variates are not independent in Biometrika, 1947
  • A class of statistics with a symptotically normal distribution, 1948
  • A nonparametric test for independence, 1948
  • The central limit theorem for dependent random variables (with Herbert Robbins), 1948
  • "Optimum" nonparametric tests, 1951
  • A combinatorial central limit theorem, 1951
  • The large-sample power of test based on permutations of observations, 1952
  • On the distribution of the expected values of the order statistics, 1953
  • The efficiency of tests (with J. R. Rosenblatt), 1955
  • On the distribution of the number of successes in independent trials, 1956
  • Distinguishability of sets of distributions. (The case of independent and identically distributed random variables.), (with Jack Wolfowitz), 1958
  • Lower bounds for the expected sample size and the average risk of a sequential procedure, 1960
  • Probability inequalities for sums of bounded random variables, 1963
Living octopus

Living octopus

In countries which are located near sea coasts, sea food is an important part of national cuisine