Statistical Science

A conversation with Herman Chernoff

John Bather

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Herman Chernoff was born in New York City on 1 July 1923. He went to school there and later received the B.S. degree from the City College of New York in 1943, majoring in mathematics with a minor in physics. For a year and a half, he worked as a junior physicist with the U.S. Navy, before joining Brown University for graduate work in applied mathematics. His studies were interrupted by a short period in the U.S. Army, and then his interest in statistics led him to complete his Ph.D. thesis at Columbia University under the supervision of Abraham Wald. At Brown University, Herman met Judy Ullman. They have been married since 1947 and have two daughters, Ellen and Miriam.

Herman worked for the Cowles Commission at the University of Chicago and then spent three years in the Mathematics Department at the University of Illinois before joining the Department of Statistics at Stanford University in 1952, where he remained for 22 years. He moved to M.I.T. in 1974, where he founded the Statistics Center. Since 1985 he has been in the Department of Statistics at Harvard.

Professor Chernoff has been honored for his contributions in many ways. He was President of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics and is an elected member of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences. The book Recent Advances in Statistics published in honor of his 60th birthday in 1983 contained papers in the fields where his influence as a researcher and teacher has been strong: design and sequential analysis, optimization and control, nonparametrics, large sample theory and statistical graphics.

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Statist. Sci. Volume 11, Number 4 (1996), 335-350.

First available in Project Euclid: 17 September 2002

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Bather, John. A conversation with Herman Chernoff. Statist. Sci. 11 (1996), no. 4, 335--350. doi:10.1214/ss/1032280306.

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