Books The autobiography of George Box

Published on March 13th, 2014 | by Travis Korte


“An Accidental Statistician,” by George Box

When he died in March 2013, statistician George Box left behind a considerable legacy, with important work in experimental design, forecasting, and data manipulation. But although his academic output  made him one of the most prominent statisticians of the 20th century, a large part of his contributions to the field never made it into the literature. He spent nearly his entire career at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, building the school’s now-prominent statistics department from scratch starting in 1960 and mentoring generations of students.

Box’s memoir, An Accidental Statistician, was published less than a month after his death and details the academic and personal aspects of his life. The book’s title comes from Box’s beginnings as a chemist; he had to teach himself statistical methodology while serving in the Army Corps of Engineers during the Battle of Britain, because his department could not afford to hire another expert. The book also explores Box’s intellectual influences, his unorthodox teaching style, and his lifelong friendship with pioneering statistician R. A. Fisher.

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About the Author

Travis Korte is a research analyst at the Center for Data Innovation specializing in data science applications and open data. He has a background in journalism, computer science and statistics. Prior to joining the Center for Data Innovation, he launched the Science vertical of The Huffington Post and served as its Associate Editor, covering a wide range of science and technology topics. He has worked on data science projects with HuffPost and other organizations. Before this, he graduated with highest honors from the University of California, Berkeley, having studied critical theory and completed coursework in computer science and economics. His research interests are in computational social science and using data to engage with complex social systems. You can follow him on Twitter @traviskorte.

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