Thursday, November 3, 2016

T. W. Anderson: 1918-2016

Unfortunately, this post deals with the recent loss of one of the great statisticians of our time - Theodore (Ted) W. Anderson.

Ted passed away on 17 September of this year, at the age of 98.

I'm hardly qualified to discuss the numerous, path-breaking, contributions that Ted made as a statistician. You can read about those in De Groot (1986), for example.

However, it would be remiss of me not to devote some space to reminding readers of this blog about the seminal contributions that Ted Anderson made to the development of econometrics as a discipline. In one of the "ET Interviews", Peter Phillips talks with Ted about his career, his research, and his role in the history of econometrics.  I commend that interview to you for a much more complete discussion than I can provide here.

(See this post for information about other ET Interviews).

Ted's path-breaking work on the estimation of simultaneous equations models, under the auspices of the Cowles Commission, was enough in itself to put him in the Econometrics Hall of Fame. He gave us the LIML estimator, and the Anderson and Rubin (1949, 1950) papers are classics of the highest order. It's been interesting to see those authors' test for over-identification being "resurrected" recently by a new generation of econometricians. 

There are all sorts of other "snippets" that one can point to as instances where Ted Anderson left his mark on the history and development of econometrics.

For instance, have you ever wondered why we have so many different tests for serial independence of regrsssion errors? Why don't we just use the uniformly most powerful (UMP) test and be done with it? Well, the reason is that no such test (against the alternative of a first-oder autoregresive pricess) exists.

That was established by Anderson (1948), and it led directly to the efforts of Durbin and Watson to develop an "approximately UMP test" for this problem.

As another example, consider the "General-to-Specific" testing methodology that we associate with David Hendry, Grayham Mizon, and other members of the (former?) LSE school of thought in econometrics. Why should we "test down", and not "test up" when developing our models? In other words, why should we start with the most  general form of the model, and then successively test and impose restrictions on the model, rather than starting with a simple model and making it increasingly complex? The short answer is that if we take the former approach, and "nest" the successive null and alternative hypotheses in the appropriate manner, then we can appeal to a theorem of Basu to ensure that the successive test statistics are independent. In turn, this means that we can control the overall significance level for the set of tests to what we want it to be. In contrast, this isn't possible if we use a "Simple-to-General" testing strategy.

All of this spelled out in Anderson (1962) in the context of polynomial regression, and is discussed further in Ted's classic time-series book (Anderson, 1971). The LSE school referred to this in promoting the "General-to-Specific" methodology.

Ted Anderson published many path-breaking papers in statistics and econometrics and he wrote several books - arguably, the two most important are Anderson (1958, 1971). He was a towering figure in the history of econometrics, and with his passing we have lost one of our founding fathers.


Anderson, T.W., 1948. On the theory of testing serial correlation. Skandinavisk Aktuarietidskrift, 31, 88-116.

Anderson, T.W., 1958. An Introduction to Multivariate Statistical Analysis. WIley, New York (2nd. ed. 1984).

Anderson, T.W., 1962. The choice of the degree of a polynomial regression as a multiple decision problem. Annals of Mathematical Statistics, 33, 255-265.

Anderson, T.W., 1971. The Statistical Analysis of Time Series. Wiley, New York.

Anderson, T.W. & H. Rubin, 1949. Estimation of the parameters of a single equation in a complete system of stochastic equations. Annals of Mathematical Statistics, 20, 46-63.

Anderson, T.W. & H. Rubin, 1950. The asymptotic properties of the parameters of a single equation in a complete system of stochastic equations. Annals of Mathematical Statistics, 21,570-582.

De Groot, M.H., 1986. A Conversation with T.W. Anderson: An interview with Morris De Groot. Statistical Science, 1, 97–105.

© 2016, David E. Giles

I Was Just Kidding......!

Back in 2011 I wrote a post that I titled, "Dummies for Dummies". It began with the suggestion that I'd written a book of that name, and it included this mock-up of the "cover":

(Thanks to former grad. student, Jacob Schwartz, for helping with the pic.)

Although I did say, "O.K., I'm (uncharacteristically) exaggerating just a tad", apparently a few people took me too seriously/literally. I've had a couple of requests for the book, and even one of my colleagues asked me when it would be appearing.

Sadly, no book was ever intended - somehow, I just don't think there's the market for it!

© 2016, David E. Giles