Statistical Science

A Conversation with Donald A. S. Fraser

Thomas J. DiCiccio and Mary E. Thompson

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Donald A. S. Fraser was born in Toronto in 1925 and spent his early years in Stratford, Ontario. His father and both grandfathers were doctors, and his mother was a nurse. He was a student at St. Andrew’s College in Aurora, north of Toronto, before entering the Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry program at the University of Toronto as an undergraduate. He specialized in mathematics in the upper years and, in his final year, was a member of the winning team in the 1946 Putnam competition, standing among the top five competitors overall. For graduate studies he went to Princeton University to study mathematics, became interested in statistics and obtained a Ph.D. in 1949 under the supervision of Samuel Wilks.

He returned to the University of Toronto as an Assistant Professor in Mathematics in 1949, and stayed at Toronto for most of his career, becoming Professor in 1958 and first Chair of the Department of Statistics in 1977. He has held visiting appointments at Princeton, Stanford, Copenhagen, Wisconsin, Hawaii and Geneva, and is Adjunct Professor at the University of Waterloo. Following his formal retirement from the University of Toronto, he was Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at York University for several years. Currently at the University of Toronto, he is still teaching and supervising students. Among his more than 50 Ph.D. students are counted many university statisticians, and he has had a profound influence on the way statistics is thought about and taught, particularly in Canadian universities.

Professor Fraser is the author of several books, including The Structure of Inference (1968) and Inference and Linear Models (1979), and author and co-author of more than 200 papers. He was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics in 1954, and Member of the International Statistical Institute and Fellow of the American Statistical Association in 1962. In 1967, he was the first statistician to be named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He was the first recipient of the Gold Medal of the Statistical Society of Canada, inaugurated in 1985. In 1990, he received the R. A. Fisher Award of the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies. His award lecture at the Joint Statistical Meetings in Anaheim that year was entitled “Likelihood and Tests of Significance: Linking the Fisher Concepts.” In 1992, he accepted an honorary Doctor of Mathematics degree from the University of Waterloo. In 2002, the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa, was conferred to him by the University of Toronto.

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Statist. Sci., Volume 19, Number 2 (2004), 370-386.

First available in Project Euclid: 14 January 2005

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DiCiccio, Thomas J.; Thompson, Mary E. A Conversation with Donald A. S. Fraser. Statist. Sci. 19 (2004), no. 2, 370--386. doi:10.1214/088342304000000143.

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