Statistical Science

A Conversation with Jayaram Sethuraman

Myles Hollander

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Jayaram Sethuraman was born in the town of Hubli in Bombay Province (now Karnataka State) on October 3, 1937. His early years were spent in Hubli and in 1950 his family moved to Madras (now renamed Chennai). He graduated from Madras University in 1957 with a B.Sc. (Hons) degree in statistics and he earned his M.A. degree in statistics from Madras University in 1958. He earned a Ph.D. in statistics from the Indian Statistical Institute in 1962. Before returning to ISI in 1965 as an Associate Professor, he was a Research Associate at the University of North Carolina 1962–1963, at Michigan State University in 1963–1964 and at Stanford University 1964–1965. After three years at the ISI, Sethuraman moved to Florida State University in 1968 as Full Professor. During his career at FSU, he made sojourns as Visiting Professor to the University of Michigan, 1974–1975, the ISI in fall 1977, as a Visiting Professor and Acting Head, ISI Bangalore Center, 1979–1980. He was a senior ASA/NSF/NIST Fellow 1994–1995 and a Fulbright Senior Researcher at ISI Bangalore 1995–1996.

Although Sethuraman officially retired on January 31, 2004 and was named Professor Emeritus at FSU, he continues to be extremely active. He participates in all activities in the Department of Statistics and holds a Courtesy Professor appointment in the Department of Religion. He held an appointment as Professor, University of Pittsburgh in the fall of 2004, and was a Fulbright Senior Lecturer at the Indian Statistical Institute of Technology, Chennai, 2005.

Sethuraman has been a superior researcher throughout his career, making important contributions in many areas including asymptotic distribution theory, large deviations theory, moderate deviations theory for which he was the pioneer, limit theory, nonparametric statistics, Dirichlet processes and Bayesian nonparametrics, stopping times for sequential estimation and testing, order statistics, stochastic majorization, Bahadur and Pitman efficiency, Markov chain Monte Carlo, reliability theory, survival analysis and image analysis. Throughout his career, he has enjoyed continuous external research support from the U.S. Army Office of Research and support from the Academy of Applied Science for mentoring high school students.

Jayaram Sethuraman has received many recognitions for his contributions to the discipline of statistics and to the advancement of science among future scholars. He was elected Fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics (1968) and the American Statistical Association (1971), and became an elected member of the International Statistical Institute (1972). He received the U.S. Army S. S. Wilks Award (1994), was the R. A. Bradley Lecturer, University of Georgia (1995), received the Teaching Incentive Program Award, FSU (1995), and the Professorial Excellence Award, FSU (1996). He was chairman of the FSU Statistics Department 1987–1990. Sethuraman received an ASA Service Award (2001), the President’s Continuing Education Award, FSU (2002), and the Bhargavi and C. R. Rao Prize, Pennsylvania State University (2005). In 1993 he was named the Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor, FSU. This award is made to only one faculty member per year and is the University’s highest faculty honor.

Article information

Statist. Sci., Volume 23, Number 2 (2008), 272-285.

First available in Project Euclid: 21 August 2008

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Bayes risk efficiency Dirichlet process image analysis large deviations moderate deviations nonparametric Bayes methods reliability


Hollander, Myles. A Conversation with Jayaram Sethuraman. Statist. Sci. 23 (2008), no. 2, 272--285. doi:10.1214/07-STS237.

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  • Athreya, K. B., Doss, H. and Sethuraman, J. (1996). On the convergence of the Markov chain simulation method. Ann. Statist. 24 69–100.
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  • Sethuraman, J. (1963). Some limit theorems concerned with fixed interval analysis. Sankhyā Ser. A 25 395–398.
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  • Sethuraman, J. and Hollander, M. (2008). Nonparametric Bayes estimation in repair models. J. Statist. Plann. Inference. To appear.
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  • Sethuraman, J. and Tiwari, R. C. (1982). Convergence of Dirichlet measures and the interpretation of their parameters. In Statistical Decision Theory and Related Topics III (2) (S. S. Gupta and J. O. Berger, eds.) 305–315. Academic Press, New York.
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