Historian of statistics Stephen M. Stigler to lecture April 26 and 27

The eminent historian of statistics Stephen M. Stigler, who is the Ernest DeWitt Burton distinguished service professor and chair of the Department of Statistics at the University of Chicago, will present the 2010 John M. Chemerda Lectures in Science on April 26 and 27, on Penn State's University Park campus. Stigler will give a public lecture titled "The Five Most Consequential Ideas in the History of Statistics" at 6 p.m. on April 26, in room 101 of the Thomas Building.

He also will present two lectures of a more technical nature on April 27. The first of these additional lectures, titled "Darwin, Galton and the Statistical Enlightenment," will take place at 1:25 p.m. in 104 Thomas Building. The second, titled "Hedge Funds, Dice, and the Origin of Mathematical Probability," will take place at 4:15 p.m. in 101 Thomas Building. These free public lectures are sponsored by the Penn State Eberly College of Science.

Stigler has focused his research on the history of statistics, particularly on the different ways in which problems in various fields including astronomy, Earth science, social sciences and psychology accelerated or inhibited the development of statistical methods. His research interests include a wide range of topics, some of which are: the statistics of sports -- particularly baseball and tournament golf; the history of lotteries and their role in forming and reflecting public attitudes towards risk; how the understanding of statistical concepts has influenced policy debates; how subtle mathematical developments in the 20th century have become confounded with personal disputes and the formation of scientific schools; and the application of statistical theory in such areas as the written transmission of historical information, clustering in cultural anthropology and the evaluation of the fossil record.

Stigler received his doctoral degree at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1967. He taught at the University of Wisconsin until 1979, when he joined the University of Chicago. He has served as president of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics and of the International Statistical Institute, was awarded an honorary doctorate from Carleton College in 2005, and was elected to membership in the American Philosophical Society in 2006. He is the author of three books on the history of statistics.

The John M. Chemerda Lectures in Science are named in honor of John M. Chemerda, a member of the Penn State Class of 1935. For more information or access assistance, contact the Department of Statistics at 814-865-1348.

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Last Updated November 18, 2010