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Statistics conference honors world-renowned professor emeritus

Daylong event includes C.R. Rao Prize keynote, lectures, poster session
3 May 2023

The C.R. Rao Prize Conference, a daylong event that includes talks, a poster session, and the awarding of the prestigious C.R. and Bhargavi Rao Prize, will bring scholars together on May 16 to honor Penn State Eberly College of Science professor emeritus and preeminent statistician C.R. Rao.

This year’s conference will feature a keynote talk, titled “Detection and Estimation of Jumps, Bumps, and Kinks” by 2023 C.R. Rao Prize winner David Siegmund, the John D. and Sigrid Banks Professor of Statistics at Stanford University. The conference will also feature lectures by several top statisticians on topics including signal recovery in single-cell data integration and the value of family data in genetic studies.

“Dr. Rao’s work shaped the directions for the field of statistics in the 20th century and continues to be relevant today, with many of his contributions being taught as fundamental concepts in introductory mathematical statistics courses,” said Murali Haran, professor and department head of statistics at Penn State. “We are so pleased to see his work continue to be recognized by the statistics community — here at Penn State and internationally.”

C.R. Rao
Penn State professor emeritus and preeminent statistician C.R. Rao

Rao, 102, was recently awarded the International Prize in Statistics — the Nobel Prize equivalent in the statistical field. He served as a faculty member at Penn State from 1988 to 2001 and became Emeritus Holder of the Eberly Family Chair in Statistics in 2009. He is the founding director of Penn State's Center for Multivariate Statistics.

His contributions to mathematics and statistical theory and applications have become part of the graduate and postgraduate curricula in statistics, econometrics, electrical engineering, and many other disciplines at most universities worldwide, and his work has had a profound influence on the theory and application of statistics in diverse fields. Rao's research in multivariate analysis, for example, is used in economic planning, weather prediction, medical diagnosis, tracking the movements of spy planes, and monitoring the movements of spacecraft, and his 1965 text “Linear Statistical Inference and Its Applications” is one of the most often cited books in science.

Prior to the creation of the International Prize in Statistics in 2017, the C.R. and Bhargavi Rao Prize was established in 2003 by C.R. and Bhargavi Rao to honor and recognize outstanding and influential innovations in the theory and practice of mathematical statistics, international leadership in directing statistical research, and pioneering contributions by a recognized leader in the field of statistics. The prize is awarded in odd-numbered years by Penn State’s Department of Statistics. Two past C.R. Rao Prize winners — Sir David R. Cox, Honorary Fellow of Nuffield College at University of Oxford, and Bradley Efron, the Max H. Stein Professor in the Department of Statistics at Stanford University — were also early International Prize in Statistics winners, in 2017 and 2019, respectively.

The talks are open to the University community and will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Berg Auditorium, 100 Huck Life Sciences Building. The conference returns to the University Park campus after a four-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The schedule and speaker details are available on the Eberly College of Science website.

The conference will also feature the C.G. Khatri Memorial Lectureship and P.R. Krishnaiah Memorial Lectureship, which began as visiting scholars programs in 1992 to honor the memory of C.G. Khatri and P.R. Krishnaiah by inviting outstanding researchers in statistics to deliver lectures at Penn State.