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ASA at 175 – The President’s Invited Speaker for JSM 2014

By Ronald Wasserstein posted 02-26-2014 12:25


Nat Schenker, 2014 ASA President, announced today that renowned statistician and historian Stephen M. Stigler will deliver the President’s Invited Address at the 2014 Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM 2014) August 4 in Boston.  What a fabulous choice for this 175th anniversary occasion!

Stigler’s focus on history has provided a unique angle from which to view and comment on contemporary research, both in statistics and beyond. He is one of the world’s foremost experts on the history of statistics, particularly the development of statistical methods in the natural and social sciences. In addition to numerous articles, he is the author of two books: The History of Statistics: The Measurement of Uncertainty Before 1900 and Statistics on the Table: The History of Statistical Concepts and Methods.

Summoning his inner T.E. Lawrence, Steve has titled his talk “The Seven Pillars of Statistical Wisdom.” He will highlight seven great ideas that have evolved to form the pillars of statistical science. These ideas, he will explain, can provide a way to see the future role of statisticians as an extension of the past—at least for the next quarter century—and provide a better understanding of the past.

A few notes (among many) about Steve:

  • He is the Ernest DeWitt Burton Distinguished Service Professor of Statistics and a member of the Committee on Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science at the University of Chicago.
  • He received his doctorate in 1967 from the University of California, Berkeley. He taught at University of Wisconsin–Madison until 1979 when he joined the University of Chicago, where he has been chair of the statistics department on several occasions.
  • Among many other high-profile roles, Steve was Theory and Methods editor of the Journal of the American Statistical Association.
  • He served as president of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics in 1994 and as president of the International Statistical Institute in 2003-2005.
  • He is a fellow of the American Statistical Association, the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, and the American Academy of Arts and sciences.
  • Here is an especially 175th anniversary-related part of Steve’s distinguished career: In 2006, he was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society, making him a member of the two oldest professional societies in the United States (the ASA is the second oldest).

The ASA is thrilled that Steve will share his insights with us on the big stage at JSM.

By way of background, the ASA President has the privilege of selecting the speaker for the plenary session on Monday afternoon at JSM.  Stigler joins a list of distinguished individuals who have given this address.  Recent President’s Invited Speakers have been:

  • 2013 - Nate Silver (Five-Thirty Eight)
  • 2012 - Alan Krueger (Chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors)
  • 2011 - Sir David Cox (Oxford University)
  • 2010 - Jim Goodnight (CEO, SAS Institute)
  • 2009 – Rebecca M. Blank (Under-Secretary for Economic Affairs, Department of Commerce)

We hope you will join us in Boston on August 4 for Steve’s talk. If you cannot, his address will be recorded and will be available for online viewing after JSM.

In 2014, the American Statistical Association is celebrating its 175th anniversary. Over the course of this year, this blog will highlight aspects of that celebration, and look broadly at the ASA and its activities. Please contact ASA Executive Director Ron Wasserstein ( if you would like to post an entry to this blog.

1 comment




08-05-2014 07:40

A summary of Stigler's talk can be found at