An Accidental Statistician: The Life and Memoriesof George E. P. Box
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More About This Title An Accidental Statistician: The Life and Memoriesof George E. P. Box


Celebrating the life of an admired pioneer in statistics

In this captivating and inspiring memoir, world-renowned statistician George E. P. Box offers a firsthand account of his life and statistical work. Writing in an engaging, charming style, Dr. Box reveals the unlikely events that led him to a career in statistics, beginning with his job as a chemist conducting experiments for the British army during World War II. At this turning point in his life and career, Dr. Box taught himself the statistical methods necessary to analyze his own findings when there were no statisticians available to check his work.

Throughout his autobiography, Dr. Box expertly weaves a personal and professional narrative to illustrate the effects his work had on his life and vice-versa. Interwoven between his research with time series analysis, experimental design, and the quality movement, Dr. Box recounts coming to the United States, his family life, and stories of the people who mean the most to him.

This fascinating account balances the influence of both personal and professional relationships to demonstrate the extraordinary life of one of the greatest and most influential statisticians of our time. An Accidental Statistician also features:

• Two forewords written by Dr. Box’s former colleagues and closest confidants

• Personal insights from more than a dozen statisticians on how Dr. Box has influenced and continues to touch their careers and lives

• Numerous, previously unpublished photos from the author’s personal collection

An Accidental Statistician is a compelling read for statisticians in education or industry, mathematicians, engineers, and anyone interested in the life story of an influential intellectual who altered the world of modern statistics.


GEORGE E. P. BOX,PHD, is Ronald Aylmer Fisher Professor Emeritus of Statistics and Industrial Engineering at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. His lifelong work has defined statistical analysis, while his name and research is a part of some of the most influential statistical constructs, including Box–Jenkins models, Box–Cox transformations, and Box–Behnken designs. Dr. Box is the coauthor of a number of Wiley books, including most recently, Statistical Control by Monitoring and Adjustment, Second Edition; Response Surfaces, Mixtures, and Ridge Analyses, Second Edition; and Improving Almost Anything: Ideas and Essays, Revised Edition.


Foreword xi

Second Foreword xv

Preface xix

Acknowledgments xxi

From ThePublisher xxiii

1 Early Years 1

‘‘Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle.’’

2 Army Life 19

‘‘Contrarywise, if it was so, it might be: and if it were so, it would be: but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.’’

3 ICI and the Statistical Methods Panel 44

‘‘Can you answer useful questions?’’

4 George Barnard 53

‘‘When I use a word . . . it means just what I choose it to mean–neither more nor less.’’

5 An Invitation to the United States 63

‘‘The time has come, ‘the walrus said,’ to talk of many things. Of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings.’’

6 Princeton 78

‘‘Ah! Then yours wasn’t a really good school.’’

7 A New Life in Madison 94

‘‘Digging for apples, your honor!’’

8 Time Series 124

‘‘What do you know about this business?’’

9 George Tiao and the Bayes Book 139

‘‘It gets easier further on.’’

10 GrowingUp (Helen and Harry) 144

‘‘There are 364 days when you might get unbirthday presents, and only 1 for birthday presents, you know.’’

11 Fisher—Father and Son 151

‘‘I only hope the boat won’t tipple over!’’

12 Bill Hunter and Some Ideas on Experimental Design 157

‘‘There goes Bill!’’

13 The Quality Movement 181

‘‘The race is over!. . . ‘Everybody has won and all must have prizes.’’’

14 Adventures with Claire 197

‘‘What else had you to learn?’’ ‘‘Well, there was Mystery.’’

15 The Many Sides of Mac 209

‘‘There’s nothing like eating hay when you’re feeling faint.’’

16 Life in England 218

‘‘What matters is how far we go? There is another shore, you know, upon the other side.’’

17 Journeys to Scandinavia 224

‘‘What sort of people live here?’’

18 A Second Home in Spain 228

‘‘I know something interesting is sure to happen.’’

19 The Royal Society of London 245

20 Conclusion 247

21 Memories 248

Index 265


Mentioned in The Economist - 20 December 2014