Statistical Science

A Conversation with Ingram Olkin

Allan R. Sampson

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Ingram Olkin was born on July 23, 1924 in Waterbury, Connecticut. His family moved to New York in 1934 and he graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School in 1941. He served three years in the Air Force during World War II and obtained a B.S. in mathematics at the City College of New York in 1947. After receiving an M.A. in mathematical statistics from Columbia in 1949, he completed his graduate studies in the Department of Statistics at the University of North Carolina in 1951. His dissertation was written under the direction of S. N. Roy and Harold Hotelling. He joined the Department of Mathematics at Michigan State University in 1951 as an Assistant Professor, subsequently being promoted to Professor. In 1960, he took a position as Chair of the Department of Statistics at the University of Minnesota. He moved to Stanford University in 1961 to take a joint position as Professor of Statistics and Professor of Education; he was also Chair of the Department of Statistics from 1973–1976. In 2007, Ingram became Professor Emeritus.

Ingram was Editor of the Annals of Mathematical Statistics (1971–1972) and served as the first editor of the Annals of Statistics from 1972–1974. He was a primary force in the founding of the Journal of Educational Statistics, for which he was also Associate Editor during 1977–1985. In 1984, he was President of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics. Among his many professional activities, he has served as Chair of the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS), Chair of the Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics of the National Research Council, Chair of the Management Board of the American Education Research Association, and as Trustee for the National Institute of Statistical Sciences.

He has been honored by the American Statistical Association (ASA) with a Wilks Medal (1992) and a Founder’s Award (1992). The American Psychological Association gave him a Lifetime Contribution Award (1997) and he was elected to the National Academy of Education in 2005. He received the COPSS Elizabeth L. Scott Award in 1998 and delivered the R. A. Fisher Lecture in 2000. In 2003, the City University of New York gave him a Townsend Harris Medal.

An author of 5 books, an editor of 10 books, and an author of more than 200 publications, Ingram has made major contributions to statistics and education. His research has focused on multivariate analysis, majorization and inequalities, distribution theory, and meta-analysis. A volume in celebration of Ingram’s 65th birthday contains a brief biography and an interview [Gleser, Perlman, Press and Sampson (1989)]. Ingram was chosen in 1997 to participate in the American Statistical Association Distinguished Statistician Video Series and a videotaped conversation and a lecture (Olkin, 1997) are available from the ASA (1997, DS041, DS042).

Article information

Statist. Sci., Volume 22, Number 3 (2007), 450-475.

First available in Project Euclid: 2 January 2008

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Zentralblatt MATH identifier

Educational statistics majorization meta-analysis multivariate analysis probability inequalities


Sampson, Allan R. A Conversation with Ingram Olkin. Statist. Sci. 22 (2007), no. 3, 450--475. doi:10.1214/088342307000000122.

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