Celebratio Mathematica

David H. Blackwell

Statistics  ·  UC Berkeley

A Tribute to David Blackwell

On Ju­ly 8, 2010, Pro­fess­or Dav­id Black­well of the Uni­versity of Cali­for­nia, Berke­ley, passed away at the age of ninety-one.

In ap­pre­ci­ation of this great math­em­at­ic­al sci­ent­ist, the ed­it­or of No­tices of the Amer­ic­an Math­em­at­ic­al So­ci­ety, Steven Krantz, de­cided to com­pile a rather ex­tens­ive art­icle con­sist­ing primar­ily of short con­tri­bu­tions by a num­ber of se­lec­ted in­vit­ees. Krantz, be­ing a math­em­atician, felt the need for a bridge to­ward the com­munity of stat­ist­i­cians and prob­ab­il­ists. I had the good for­tune to be in­vited to fill this role and to be giv­en the op­por­tun­ity to of­fer a token of my af­fec­tion and im­mense re­spect for Pro­fess­or Black­well.

A lim­ited num­ber of in­vit­a­tions were sent to a se­lec­ted seg­ment of stat­ist­i­cians/prob­ab­il­ists. The re­sponse was prompt and en­thu­si­ast­ic. At the fi­nal stage, twenty con­tri­bu­tions were col­lec­ted of av­er­age length of about one and a half pages. The con­trib­ut­ors were se­lec­ted to rep­res­ent four groups of people: former stu­dents of Pro­fess­or Black­well; former stu­dents at the Uni­versity of Cali­for­nia, Berke­ley, but not Pro­fess­or Black­well’s stu­dents; fac­ulty of the Uni­versity of Cali­for­nia, Berke­ley; fac­ulty from oth­er in­sti­tu­tions.

The heart of the present art­icle is the set of con­tri­bu­tions re­ferred to above.

In this Chapter:

Deep grat­it­ude is due to the twenty con­trib­ut­ors to this art­icle for their re­sponse to the ex­ten­ded in­vit­a­tions; for their shar­ing with the math­em­at­ic­al sci­ences com­munity at large their ex­per­i­ences with Pro­fess­or Black­well; their re­min­is­cences about him; and their ex­pressed ap­pre­ci­ation of Pro­fess­or Black­well’s work.

— George Rous­sas