David Blackwell was a considerable influence in my life. This influence is best summarized in my dedication of a joint paper I was invited to submit for the I.M.S. Lecture Notes Monograph series in his honor, which stated, “To David Blackwell, who with his characteristically concise sentences taught me, among other things, how to write a mathematics paper, how to look at mathematics, how to welcome responsibility and how to face one’s more mature years, this paper is affectionately dedicated.”
When David arrived at Berkeley in 1954 I was beginning my last year as a graduate student. My hazy recollection of my first interaction with him was that I was appointed as his teaching assistant for the graduate course in probability at the measure-theoretic level. When I asked him what he wanted me to do during the two one-hour sessions per week for the semester, his instructions were for me to do what I felt I should do for the six or seven students in the class. Since he wanted to cover other topics, I had a very enjoyable time for the semester or the year (I forget which) going through the recently publishedand book on limit distributions.
I received my Ph.D. in mathematics in June 1955 and am listed as David’s first doctoral student. This occurred as follows. The problem that I was working on starting in 1953 was one suggested by Professor. However, some time after David arrived at Berkeley, Neyman asked him if he would be available to advise me in the throes of putting the dissertation into its final shape. Among other things during that period, he showed me how to write a mathematics paper, which is recalled in the dedication quoted above. So somehow David was appointed chairman of my committee, and I am listed as his first doctoral student. This was and is a great honor for me.