C. R. Rao receives 38th honorary doctoral degree

Penn State's C.R. Rao, emeritus holder of the Eberly Family Chair in Statistics, long recognized as one of the world's top statisticians, has been awarded an honorary doctorate degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur. He received the degree at the Convocation of the Indian Institute of Technology on July 26 this year “for his contributions to the foundations of modern statistics through the introduction of concepts such as Cramer-Rao-Inequality, Rao-Blackwellization, Rao-Distance, Rao-Measure and for introducing the idea of Orthogonal Arrays for the industry to design high quality products.”

Rao is recognized internationally as a pioneer who laid the foundation of modern statistics, with multifaceted distinctions as a mathematician, researcher, scientist and teacher. His contributions to mathematics and to the theory and application of statistics during the last seven decades have become part of graduate and postgraduate courses in statistics, econometrics, electrical engineering and many other disciplines at most universities throughout the world. Rao's research in multivariate analysis, for example, is useful in economic planning, weather prediction, medical diagnosis, tracking the movements of spy planes, and monitoring the movements of spacecraft. Technical terms bearing his name appear in all standard textbooks on statistics, econometrics, and engineering. Examples of these terms are the Cramer-Rao Inequality, Rao-Blackwellization, Fisher-Rao Theorem, Rao Distance, Rao's Orthoganal Arrays, Rao's Quadratic Entropy, and Rao's Score test. A book Rao wrote in 1965, "Linear Statistical Inference and Its Applications," is one of the most-often-cited books in science.

In addition to the 38 honorary degrees that he has been awarded by universities in 19 countries spanning six continents, Rao has been honored with the Royal Statistical Society's 2011 Guy Medal in Gold, the United Kingdom's highest award given to a statistician for innovative research in statistics and applications. He is the first scientist born in an Asian country to receive the award. Rao also received the India Science Award, the highest award given to a scientist in India, for his significant contributions to the field of statistical science in 2010. In 2003, he was honored with the first Mahalanobis International Award in Statistics from the International Statistical Institute and the Srinivasa Ramanujan Medal by the Indian National Science Academy. In 2002, he was honored by President George W. Bush with the National Medal of Science, the highest award given to an American scientist for lifetime achievement in fields of scientific research. Also in 2002, Rao received the highest honor bestowed by the University of Visva-Bharati, the Desikottama Award, in recognition of his "enormous contributions in the field of statistics and its applications." In 2001, Rao was honored by the government of India with the Padma Vibhushan Award -- the country's second-highest civilian honor -- for outstanding contributions to science, engineering, and statistics; with being selected in 2000 as the namesake for a National Award to be presented to India's outstanding young statisticians. In 1989, the American Statistical Association awarded him the Wilks Medal.

Rao is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Science in the United States, a Fellow of the Royal Society in the United Kingdom, and a member of the Indian National Science Academy, the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, and the Developing World Academy of Sciences.

He has authored or co-authored 14 books -- some of which have been translated into several languages -- and more than 475 research papers published in scientific journals. He has supervised the doctoral research of 50 students who have, in turn, trained another 430 doctoral students. Most of his former students now are employed in universities and other research organizations worldwide, many becoming research leaders in their areas of specialization.

Rao earned doctorate and doctor of science degrees in 1948 at Cambridge University in England. He came to the United States in 1978 after serving as the director of the Indian Statistical Institute, where he had held various research and administrative positions for 39 years since 1943. In 1982, he established the Center for Multivariate Analysis at the University of Pittsburgh, where he continues as an adjunct professor. Rao joined the Penn State faculty in 1988 as a professor and holder of the Eberly Family Chair in Statistics. He became the emeritus holder of the Eberly Family Chair in Statistics in 2009. He is the founding director of Penn State's Center for Multivariate Statistics. In 2014, at the age of 94, he is a research professor at the University at Buffalo and distinguished professor emeritus and an adviser at the C.R. Rao Advanced Institute of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science (AIMSCS).

Last Updated August 27, 2014