Tuesday, November 1, 2016

International Prize in Statistics

A few days ago, the inaugural winner of the biennial International Prize in Statistics was announced.

The first recipient of the new award is Sir David Cox, whose work is, of course, well known to econometricians.

The award was made to Sir David for his "Survival Analysis Model Applied in Medicine, Science, and Engineering".

Econometricians are very familiar with some of Cox's many contributions, including the Box-Cox transformation (Box and Cox, 1964); the Cox test for non-nested hypotheses (Cox, 1961, 1962); and Cox-Snell residuals (Cox and Snell, 1971) and the associated bias-adjustment techniques.

And then there's the "biggie" - the Cox proportional hazard model (Cox, 1972). This model is the foundation of a multitude of empirical studies in survival analysis, and is widely used in labour economics and other such areas of economics.

Susan Ellenberg, chair of the International Prize in Statistics Foundation, had this to say:
“Professor Cox changed how we analyze and understand the effect of natural or human induced risk factors on survival outcomes, paving the way for powerful scientific inquiry and discoveries that have impacted human health worldwide. Use of the ‘Cox Model’ in the physical, medical, life, earth, social and other sciences, as well as engineering fields, has yielded more robust and detailed information that has helped researchers and policymakers address some of society’s most pressing challenges.”
 The announcement of the new award also included the following information:
"Successful application of the Cox Model has led to life-changing breakthroughs with far-reaching societal effects, some of which include the following:
  • Demonstrating that a major reduction in smoking-related cardiac deaths could be seen within just one year of smoking cessation, not 10 or more years as previously thought.
  • Showing the mortality effects of particulate air pollution, a finding that has changed both industrial practices and air quality regulations worldwide.
  • Identifying risk factors of coronary artery disease and analyzing treatments for lung cancer, cystic fibrosis, obesity, sleep apnea and septic shock.
His mark on research is so great that his 1972 paper is one of the three most-cited papers in statistics and ranked 16th in Nature's list of the top 100 most-cited papers of all time for all fields."
The presentation of this new award really is a well-deserved honour for Sir David Cox.


Box, G.E.P. and D.R. Cox, 1964. An analysis of transformations (with discussion). Journal of the Royal Statistical Society B, 26, 211–252.

Cox, D.R.,1961. Tests of separate families of hypotheses. In Proceedings of the fourth Berkeley Symposium on Mathematical Statistics and Probability, 1, edited by L.M. LeCam, J. Neyman and E.L. Scott. Berkeley: University of California Press, 105–123.

Cox, D.R., 1962. Further results on tests of separate families of hypotheses. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society B, 24, 406–424.

Cox, D.R., 1972. Regression models and life-tables (with discussion). Journal of the Royal Statistical Society B, 34, 187–220.

Cox, D.R. and E.J. Snell, E.J., 1971. On test statistics calculated from residuals. Biometrika, 58, 589–594.

© 2016, David E. Giles

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