I. J. Good


I. J. Good : biography

1916-12-9 – 05 April 2009

Here’s something he had later said about his arrival in Virginia (from England) in 1967 to start teaching at VPI, where he taught from 1967 to 1994:

"I arrived in Blacksburg in the seventh hour of the seventh day of the seventh month of the year seven in the seventh decade, and I was put in Apartment 7 of Block 7…all by chance."


  • Probability and the Weighing of Evidence (1950), Griffin, London.
  • Information, Weight of Evidence: The Singularity Between Probability Measures and Signal Detection (1974) with D.B. Osteyee, Springer, ISBN 978-3-540-06726-9.
  • Good Thinking: The Foundations of Probability and Its Applications (1983) University of Minnesota Press. Republished by Dover in 2009.


The slender, bushy-moustached Good was blessed with a sense of humor. He published a paper under the names IJ Good and "K Caj Doog"—the latter, his own nickname spelled backwards. In a 1988 paper,I.J. Good, Statistical Science, vol. 3, no. 4, 1988, pp. 386–97. he introduced its subject by saying, "Many people have contributed to this topic but I shall mainly review the writings of I. J. Good because I have read them all carefully." In Virginia he chose, as his vanity license plate, "007IJG," in subtle reference to his World War II intelligence work.

Research and publications

Good’s published work ran to over three million words. He was known for his work on Bayesian statistics. He published a number of books on probability theory. In 1958 he published an early version of what later became known as the Fast Fourier Transform"The interaction algorithm and practical fourier analysis," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series B, vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 361-372, 1958, addendum: ibid. 22 (2), 373-375 (1960). but it did not became widely known. He played chess to county standard and helped popularize Go, an Asian boardgame, through a 1965 article in New Scientist (he had learned the rules from Alan Turing)., The New Scientist, January 1965, pp. 172-74. In 1965 he originated the concept now known as "technological singularity," which anticipates the eventual advent of superhuman intelligence:

Good’s authorship of treatises such as "Speculations Concerning the First Ultraintelligent Machine" and "Logic of Man and Machine" (both 1965) made him the obvious person for Stanley Kubrick to consult when filming 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), one of whose principal characters was the paranoid HAL 9000 supercomputer. In 1995 Good was elected a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.


Good died on 5 April 2009 of natural causes in Radford, Virginia, aged 92.