Open Access
February 2024 A Conversation with Stephen M. Stigler
Sam Behseta, Robert E. Kass
Author Affiliations +
Statist. Sci. 39(1): 192-208 (February 2024). DOI: 10.1214/22-STS878


Stephen M. Stigler received his Ph.D. in Statistics from the University of California, Berkeley, with a dissertation on the asymptotic distribution of linear functions of order statistics. Starting in 1967, he taught at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, then in 1979 moved to the University of Chicago where he taught from 1979 to 2021. Stigler has worked on a variety of topics in mathematical statistics, ranging from asymptotic theory to the theory of experimental design, and on applications of statistics including in anthropology, forensic science, paleontology, psychology, information transfer and sports. In recent years, he has concentrated on the history of statistics, with inquiries ranging from the development of statistical methods in astronomy and geodesy and their spread to biological and social sciences, to lotteries, to the modern development of statistical theory. He has published four books, The History of Statistics (1986), Statistics on the Table (1999), The Seven Pillars of Statistical Wisdom (2016) and Casanova’s Lottery (2022). A recent research focus has been upon the way the work of Francis Galton on the statistics of inheritance led to the creation of modern multivariate analysis and made a true Bayesian inference possible, and on how R. A. Fisher’s transformation of Karl Pearson’s path breaking research led to a modern period of statistical enlightenment.

Stigler is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Philosophical Society; he has served as President of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics and of the International Statistical Institute. In 2005, he received the Humboldt Foundation Research Award; in 2010, he was elected Membre Associé of the Académie royale de Belgique, Classe des Sciences. Stigler served as Theory and Methods Editor for the Journal of the American Statistical Association 1979–1982. He was a Guggenheim Fellow in 1977, and received awards for undergraduate teaching at the University of Wisconsin (1971) and University of Chicago (1998).

This interview with Stigler was conducted remotely in July 2021.


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Sam Behseta. Robert E. Kass. "A Conversation with Stephen M. Stigler." Statist. Sci. 39 (1) 192 - 208, February 2024.


Published: February 2024
First available in Project Euclid: 18 February 2024

MathSciNet: MR4718533
Digital Object Identifier: 10.1214/22-STS878

Keywords: academic life , History of statistics , statistical narrative , Statistical training , University of Chicago

Rights: Copyright © 2024 Institute of Mathematical Statistics

Vol.39 • No. 1 • February 2024
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