Monday, March 25, 2013

In Memorium, Shayle Searle

New Zealand-born statistician, Shayle R. Searle passed away recently in Ithaca, N.Y. - for further information, see here.

A great interview with Shayle, by Martin Wells, appeared in Statistical Science in 2010. One passage in that interview especially caught my attention. This is where Shayle is describing his early involvement with actuarial mathematics, and he says:

"After the 1949 M.A. exams I took a job as assistant to the actuary at Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Company in Wellington. I had no office of my own, but merely a desk in a large room with some dozen or so retirees who, day in and day out, were checking the weekly premiums paid for what were called industrial policies—something like twenty-five cents a week. The actuary’s office was but a few steps across the hall."

In the summer of 1968, part-way through my own undergraduate studies in mathematics and statistics in New Zealand, I worked in that very same CML office in Wellington. For better or worse, the experience persuaded me that an actuarial life was not for me!

Of the several influential books that Shayle published, my all-time favourite is his Linear Models (Wiley, 1971). It's a volume that I turn to regularly. It's a classic that I can recommend without reservation!

© 2013, David E. Giles