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May 2002 Sir Gilbert Walker and a Connection between El Niño and Statistics
Richard W. Katz
Statist. Sci. 17(1): 97-112 (May 2002). DOI: 10.1214/ss/1023799000


The eponym “Walker Circulation” refers to a concept used by atmospheric scientists and oceanographers in providing a physical explanation for the El Niño–Southern Oscillation phenomenon, whereas the eponym “Yule–Walker equations” refers to properties satisfied by the autocorrelations of an autoregressive process. But how many statisticians (or, for that matter, atmospheric scientists) are aware that the “Walker” in both terms refers to the same individual, Sir Gilbert Thomas Walker, and that these two appellations arose in conjunction with the same research on the statistical prediction of climate? Like George Udny Yule (the “Yule” in Yule– Walker), Walker’s motivation was to devise a statistical model that exhibited quasiperiodic behavior. The original assessments of Walker’s work, both in the meteorology and in statistics, were somewhat negative. With hindsight, it is argued that his research should be viewed as quite successful.


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Richard W. Katz. "Sir Gilbert Walker and a Connection between El Niño and Statistics." Statist. Sci. 17 (1) 97 - 112, May 2002.


Published: May 2002
First available in Project Euclid: 11 June 2002

zbMATH: 1032.01521
MathSciNet: MR1917900
Digital Object Identifier: 10.1214/ss/1023799000

Rights: Copyright © 2002 Institute of Mathematical Statistics


Vol.17 • No. 1 • May 2002
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