Statistical Science

A Conversation with Piet Groeneboom

Geurt Jongbloed

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Petrus (Piet) Groeneboom was born in Scheveningen in 1941 and grew up in Voorburg. Both villages are located near The Hague in The Netherlands; Scheveningen actually being part of The Hague. He attended the gymnasium of the Huygens lyceum. In 1959, he entered the University of Amsterdam, where he studied psychology. After his “candidate” exam (comparable to BSc) in 1963, he worked at the psychological laboratory of the University of Amsterdam until 1966. In 1965, he took up mathematics as a part-time study. After having obtained his master’s degree in 1971, he had a position at the psychological laboratory again until 1973, when he was appointed to the Mathematical Center in Amsterdam. There, he wrote between 1975 and 1979 his Ph.D. thesis with Kobus Oosterhoff as advisor, graduating in 1979. After a period of two years as visiting professor at the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle, Piet moved back to the Mathematical Center until he was appointed full professor of statistics at the University of Amsterdam in 1984. Four years later, he moved to Delft University of Technology where he became professor of statistics and stayed until his retirement in 2006. Between 2000 and 2006 he also held a part-time professorship at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. From 1999 till 2013 he was Affiliate Professor at the statistics department of UW, Seattle. Apart from being visiting professor at the UW in Seattle, he was also visiting professor at Stanford University, Université Paris 6 and ETH Zürich.

Piet is well known for his work on shape constrained statistical inference. He worked on asymptotic theory for these problems, created algorithms to compute nonparametric estimates in such models and applied these models to real data. He also worked on interacting particle systems, extreme value analysis and efficiency theory for testing procedures. Piet (co-)authored four books and 64 papers and served as promotor of 13 students. He is the recipient of the 1985 Rollo Davidson prize, a fellow of the IMS and elected member of the ISI. In 2015, he delivered the Wald lecture at the Joint Statistical Meeting in Montreal.

Piet and his wife Marijke live in Naarden. He has two sons, Thomas and Tim, and (since June 12, 2018) one grandson, Tarik. This conversation was held at Piet’s house in Naarden, on February 28 and April 24, 2018.

Article information

Statist. Sci., Volume 34, Number 1 (2019), 156-168.

First available in Project Euclid: 12 April 2019

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University of Amsterdam Mathematical Center (CWI) Delft University of Technology violin playing


Jongbloed, Geurt. A Conversation with Piet Groeneboom. Statist. Sci. 34 (2019), no. 1, 156--168. doi:10.1214/18-STS663.

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