Statistical Science

A Conversation with Richard A. Olshen

John A. Rice

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Richard Olshen was born in Portland, Oregon, on May 17, 1942. Richard spent his early years in Chevy Chase, Maryland, but has lived most of his life in California. He received an A.B. in Statistics at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1963, and a Ph.D. in Statistics from Yale University in 1966, writing his dissertation under the direction of Jimmie Savage and Frank Anscombe. He served as Research Staff Statistician and Lecturer at Yale in 1966–1967.

Richard accepted a faculty appointment at Stanford University in 1967, and has held tenured faculty positions at the University of Michigan (1972–1975), the University of California, San Diego (1975–1989), and Stanford University (since 1989). At Stanford, he is Professor of Health Research and Policy (Biostatistics), Chief of the Division of Biostatistics (since 1998) and Professor (by courtesy) of Electrical Engineering and of Statistics. At various times, he has had visiting faculty positions at Columbia, Harvard, MIT, Stanford and the Hebrew University.

Richard’s research interests are in statistics and mathematics and their applications to medicine and biology. Much of his work has concerned binary tree-structured algorithms for classification, regression, survival analysis and clustering. Those for classification and survival analysis have been used with success in computer-aided diagnosis and prognosis, especially in cardiology, oncology and toxicology. He coauthored the 1984 book Classification and Regression Trees (with Leo Brieman, Jerome Friedman and Charles Stone) which gives motivation, algorithms, various examples and mathematical theory for what have come to be known as CART algorithms. The approaches to tree-structured clustering have been applied to problems in digital radiography (with Stanford EE Professor Robert Gray) and to HIV genetics, the latter work including studies on single nucleotide polymorphisms, which has helped to shed light on the presence of hypertension in certain subpopulations of women.

Richard also has a long-standing interest in the analyses of longitudinal data. This includes a detailed study of the pharmacokinetics of intracavitary chemotherapy with systemic rescue (with Stephen Howell and John Rice). Related efforts have focused on “mature walking,” concomitants of high cholesterol, and aspects of glomerular filtration in patients with nephrotic disorders (with Bryan Myers). With the late David Sutherland, Edmund Biden and Marilynn Wyatt, he coauthored the monograph The Development of Mature Walking. Richard’s other stochastic-statistical interests include exchangeability, conditional significance levels of particular test statistics, CART-like estimators in regression and successive standardization of rectangular arrays of numbers.

Richard is an elected Fellow of the IMS, the AAAS, the ASA and the IEEE. He is a former Guggenheim Fellow and has been a Research Scholar in Cancer of the American Cancer Society.

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Statist. Sci. Volume 30, Number 1 (2015), 118-132.

First available in Project Euclid: 4 March 2015

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Rice, John A. A Conversation with Richard A. Olshen. Statist. Sci. 30 (2015), no. 1, 118--132. doi:10.1214/14-STS492.

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