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An Accidental Statistician: The Life and Memories of George E. P. Box (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – Rauer Buchschnitt, 17. Mai 2013
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Mentioned in The Economist - 20 December 2014
Celebrating the life of an admired pioneer in statistics
In this captivating and inspiring memoir, world-renowned statistician George E. P. Box offers a firsthand account of his life and statistical work. Writing in an engaging, charming style, Dr. Box reveals the unlikely events that led him to a career in statistics, beginning with his job as a chemist conducting experiments for the British army during World War II. At this turning point in his life and career, Dr. Box taught himself the statistical methods necessary to analyze his own findings when there were no statisticians available to check his work.
Throughout his autobiography, Dr. Box expertly weaves a personal and professional narrative to illustrate the effects his work had on his life and vice-versa. Interwoven between his research with time series analysis, experimental design, and the quality movement, Dr. Box recounts coming to the United States, his family life, and stories of the people who mean the most to him. This fascinating account balances the influence of both personal and professional relationships to demonstrate the extraordinary life of one of the greatest and most influential statisticians of our time. An Accidental Statistician also features:
* Two Forewords written by Dr. Box's former colleagues and closest confidants
* Personal insights from more than a dozen statisticians on how Dr. Box has influenced and continues to touch their careers and lives
* Numerous, previously unpublished photos from the author's personal collection
An Accidental Statistician is a compelling read for statisticians in education or industry, mathematicians, engineers, and anyone interested in the life story of an influential intellectual who altered the world of modern statistics.
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Reading this book took me back to all but the last of these occasions as if they were yesterday. Of course I enjoyed the Madison based chapters the most. "A New Life in Madison" describes the beginnings of the Statistics Department at the University. I had a course during my first semester in a quonset hut like the one that George describes as originally housing the department. This chapter helped me to understand why I struggled with statistics as an undergrad. I was learning from one of the mathematical statistics professors and not one of George's applied statisticians. I very much enjoyed the chapter "The Quality Movement." These were the years that I was most active in the community and learned from George, Brian Joiner, Peter Scholtes, Joe Sensenbrenner and David Couper through events at MAQIN. I attended the presentation by Dr. Kano but until reading this book didn't know that CQPI was responsible for bringing Dr Kano to Madison. Dr Kano gave a presentation that was very similar to one that he had given to the executives at Florida Power & Light before we began our quest for the Deming Prize). A photograph of me "learning at the feet of the master" during this session is on the wall of my office. I very much appreciated the chapter on Bill Hunter called "Bill Hunter and Some Ideas on Experimental Design" as i was a regular attendee of the annual Hunter Conference in Madison. This chapter gave me a better understanding of the man for whom the conference was named.
Besides the Madison chapters, I enjoyed George's recounting of his time in the Army in "Army Life" and his time at ICI in "ICI and the Statistical Methods Panel." These chapters helped me to better understand the man that I knew in later years. I think his personality came through strongly in these chapters. It was also amazing to read the "who's who" of statisticians that George had worked with throughout his career. In this sense, the book reminded me of David Salsburg's "The Lady Tasting Tea."
Reading this book helped me to realize that the practical style and the use of stories that I use when teaching probably came from George.
I hope a future edition will include a full bibliography of George's work and more and better quality pictures from throughout his life. Also, since George's recent passing, it would be nice to expand the "Memories" chapter since so many people have been touched by George's work. Currently, some other memories can be seen here: http://www.cressfuneralservice.com/obituary/114698/George-Box/#memories
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the field of statistics, anyone who knew George, or anyone that want's to learn more about one of the great minds of the field of statistics.
First, I believe that the most interesting part of the book is when he describes how he met all his friends (and also famous statisticians), and the good relation that he had with all of them. In addition, it's very exciting to read about the adventures that Dr Box had with Stu Hunter, Dr Cox, Dr Benkhen, Gwilym Jenkins, George Banard, among others; and how they started to work together.
On the other hand, this book contains personal anecdotes and adventures that lead you to know more about George Box's personal life. Moreover, you'll found that he liked to describe everything with as much detail as possible; as a great storyteller he was.
I always wanted to meet Dr. Box; after I read this book, I did.
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