in honor of world statistics day I want to announce that my favorite statisticians are philippesaner, David Blackwell and William Sealy Gosset, in that order.
David Blackwell, in addition to being a truly wonderful mathematician, was the first African American to receive tenure at Berkeley and the first African American member of the NAS. He is also the source of yet another sweet anecdote about John von Neumann, who is my favorite mathematician, proto-computer engineer, amateur Babylonian historian, and wearer of suits, and is tied for my favorite physicist and former Princeton faculty member.
Gosset was a zany dude who graduated from Oxford with a degree in chemistry and mathematics and promptly, as you might expect, joined the Guiness Brewery. Because the brewery didn’t want him publishing all the top secret shit it paid him to learn about comparing one strain of barley to another strain of barley, all/most of his statistical work was published under the pen-name Student. Hence, one of the more useful families of sample distributions is called “Student’s t-distribution” and the associated test of statistical significance is called “Student’s t-test.” Unfortunately, he was also pals with eugenicists, but this is one of the tricky things about choosing favorite statisticians from before a few decades ago: most educated people who thought about evolutionary theory were eugenicists for a good century or so there, and statisticians tend to fall neatly in that boat.
Finally, I could tell you the wild reasons that Philippe is on my list, but no one would believe me