ISI - INTERNATIONAL STATISTICAL
Newsletter Volume 28, No. 3 (84) 2004
Published three times a year, the ISI Newsletter provides a broad overview of the Institute's activities, and also includes additional information of interest to statisticians. The Newsletter is sent to all members of the ISI and its five Sections (approx. 5,000) as part of their membership.
|In this On-Line Issue|
|Message from the President|
|Message from the Director|
|55th ISI Session, Sydney|
|56th ISI Session, Lisboa|
|News of Members|
|ISI Officer Election Results|
|ISI Executive Committee (2005-2007)|
|ISI Membership Elections|
|Dutch Virtual Census 2001: Interview with Dr. E.S. Nordholt|
|Honorary Member Interviews: Dr. Ivan Fellegi|
|ISI Committee Matters|
|Enhanced Benefits for ISI and Section Members|
|Calendar of Events|
|Check your Personal Data|
|News from ISI sections Volume 28, No. 3 (84) 2004|
Statistics and the Wealth of Nations
On August 30th and 31st, 2004, the ISI co-sponsored a Special Conference in Daejeon, Korea, on “The Vital Role of Statistical Science in Assuring National Prosperity”. The Conference was co-organized by the Korean Statistical Society and the Korea National Statistical Office, with Jae C. Lee as Chair of the International Organizing Committee. The Con-ference was timed to follow a meeting of the ISI Council on August 29th, and thirty-one invited participants, many of them members of the Council, took part and delivered papers related to the theme of the meeting. What follows is an abbreviated version of remarks I made at that Conference.
The assembled statisticians all agreed on the importance of statistics for national prosperity, but what is the basis of this belief? There does seem to be a strong historical association between statistics and prosperity. For example, in England in the 1600’s, John Graunt and William Petty made systematic studies that started with observations drawn from public health records. In a path-breaking work first published in 1662, Graunt used the records of deaths in London’s parishes to try to estimate the population and particularly the population of men aged 16 to 56, what he termed “fighting men”. Graunt was mainly concerned with questions of population and public health, but his friend William Petty subsequently went further, inventing the term “Political Arithmetick” for the science of deriving comparative figures on the relative wealth of European nations from trade statistics, public health records and parish level data. Indeed, Petty’s stated goal was to correct widespread misapprehensions about the wealth and trade of England, in order to better advise the Crown on economic policies needed to direct the nation. Petty sought to use his statistical methods to counter what he believed was an unwarranted but widespread pessimism about England’s fortunes, by demonstrating England’s relative prosperity compared to other European nations, and at the same time to explain the basis of that wealth so that national policies could be better directed. Those were indeed times of great British economic strength, but even the fact of that strength could be missed without statistical support. Petty sought scientific understanding with the explicit goal of national prosperity.
In that same century in France, Blaise Pascal and Pierre de Fermat were exploring an early probability theory that foreshadowed modern financial engineering; while in Holland, Christiaan Huygens worked on many of the same problems and Jan de Witt was taking first steps toward a mathematical framework for life insurance. To a degree, the pursuit of all of these statistical sciences in these European nations rose and fell with their economic fortunes. With the rise of British sea trade and the decline of Dutch trade, there was a rise in British statistics while Dutch work in that area languished. As French influence increased in the late 1700’s and with the Napoleonic era, so too did their statistics, both mathematical (Laplace) and national (from Turgot and Necker to the development and spread of statistical accounting under Napoleon and even afterwards, in the compilations of Fourier and Chabrol). So too, the unification and growth in economic power of Germany was accompanied by a great increase in the collection and analysis of economic statistics, from the early national statistics around 1800 (Lueder, Meusel) to the vast Prussian publications towards the end of the nineteenth century.
The formal introduction of regular censuses also was tied to national growth, in the United States, Great Britain, and France, where censuses began to take hold as growing territories – empires in some cases – came to cope with the need to “number the people” for all sorts of reasons, from taxation to conscription to determining necessary social services. Smaller nations and states exhibited the same association, though on a smaller scale. Belgium’s statistical apparatus expanded immensely with the formation of the Belgian nation in 1830, due in large measure (but not entirely) to Adolphe Quetelet. Other examples could be drawn from positive experiences in India, Australia, Japan and Korea. Conversely, one might cite the example of the general weakness of Soviet statistics leading up to the 1980’s, notwithstanding their extraordinary strength in mathematics and theoretical probability.
The relationship between statistics and prosperity was not perfect, counterexamples can be found, but it was general and persistent. What sorts of causal relationships underlie this association? Were first-class statistical agencies and first-class statistical research simply luxuries that only a prosperous nation could afford? Or, were they intrinsic to the achievement of that prosperity? Were good national statistical systems, including statistical education and research, necessary to prosperity, or were they merely symptoms of that prosperity? Put bluntly, is prosperity good for statistics or is statistics good for the economy?
Statistical development has certainly been made feasible by increasing prosperity. Although, it seems equally undeniable that statistical development itself could play a crucial role in achieving increased prosperity, even if one accords the lion’s share of the credit to other factors, such as free markets, natural resources and human capital. To demonstrate this conclusively is beyond the reach of methods of causal inference, but a plausible speculation of how it could be is not difficult. To see how investments in statistical expertise can earn huge benefits at low cost, consider statistical experimental design, itself the product of statistical research, and the role it has played in manufacturing in some sectors of the US economy. In the 1960’s, it was common to find that production levels in chemical manufacturing plants were acceptable, leading to moderate profits and complacency by managers, understandably reluctant to tamper with a functioning process. However, statisticians found that by the use of on-line statistically designed experimentation, minor adjustments in production settings could be found that could increase yields by (say) 0.5%. To some that may sound like a small gain, but it is not. It represents a gain that comes at essentially no increase in production cost, and it could be a large fraction of the profit margin: perhaps a 25% increase in profit for a few hours of well-planned statistical work.
Just so, the gain from a well-run national statistical system is a gain in production efficiency, a possibly substantial decrease in waste and increased delivery of services, fewer unwarranted changes in policy directions, as well as better estimates of future demands. The costs of the statistical system are non-trivial but not huge. The marginal cost of an excellent statistical system over the record keeping that would be needed simply to survive is small. However, more is needed: without the associated statistical educational system and training in research on statistical methods, the means of maintaining the system with a steady supply of professional statisticians is lacking. The gains come on top of the returns to a functioning economic system: gains in efficiency can be the least costly and the most rewarding.
Historically, we may see in retrospect how this has worked. In France, the finance ministers of the last decade of the old regime struggled to build a new economic statistics system. After the chaotic years of 1793-1797, Napoleon exerted strong leadership to build civil systems capable of administering an empire, and also an educational system to provide staff for the civil system. French science thrived, French government thrived, and even after 1815, France was able to recover with remarkable speed to achieve a century of remarkable prosperity. Their statistical systems permitted efficient administration and played an important role in this. In England in the late 1600’s, the situation was much the same. William Petty’s statistical thinking reflected an approach to efficient administration that helped lead the nation, working with and through the South Seas Company, to a remarkable era of prosperity. It was not so much a question of control; control of events on the high seas of the late 1600’s was not to be guaranteed by any system. Rather, it was a question of information, both for planning and rapid flexible adjustment, with able local offices having the authority and capability to use local statistical information effectively. The ability three centuries ago to learn from and coordinate distant national outposts is like the ability to plan and execute at the local stations in modern manufacturing plants while coordinating with a wider distribution network. Statistical information, understanding and training can increase the efficiency of any system. Just so, national prosperity is inextricably bound to good information systems, where this of necessity means not simply enhanced efficiency in communication, but also effective use of trained statistical understanding to plan and execute.
Stephen M. Stigler
| I have recently returned from a
Special Conference in Daejeon, Korea, organised by Professor Jae Chang Lee
(Organising Committee Chair), Professor Jung Jin Lee and Dr. Nicholas Fisher
(Scientific Programme Committee Co-Chairs) focussing on “The Vital Role of
Statistical Science in Assuring National Prosperity”. The Conference provided
participants with a unique opportunity to step back and to review the wide range
of developments taking place in various statistical disciplines, allowing each
speaker to present an overview of their own statistical specialty. This
Conference was organised concurrently with the ISI EC/Council meeting, thus
enabling the Council to meet in-between ISI Sessions. We are especially grateful
to Professor Jae Chang Lee for his efforts to mobilise support within Korea,
thereby allowing the Conference and Council meeting to take place, and to all of
the Korean hosts for their generous hospitality.
Although the agenda of the EC/Council meeting included a large number of discussion items, the most pressing and all encompassing issue concerned the ISI’s present financial status. Total annual ISI expenditure has exceeded total annual income every year from 1999 to the present; however, in the 1999-2002 period, annual ISI investment income compensated for annual operational losses. In 2003, the US Dollar dropped in value in comparison to the Euro (resulting in currency conversion losses). There has also been a downturn in the stock markets (resulting in a drop in stock dividends) and the bond markets have also suffered (with dwindling bond rates). In addition, there has been a continuing dramatic reduction in the level of various institutional subsidies that the ISI has enjoyed in the past. Since 2003, the ISI has experienced serious annual deficits. The ISI EC, the Council and the ISI Permanent Office are scrutinising all expenditures to reduce costs where possible, while considering potential sources of income. Particular attention has been directed at the ISI publications programme, and a decision has been taken to discontinue all production on the ISI publication “Statistical Theory and Method Abstracts” in the course of the next few months, unless a financially viable publication partner for STMA can be arranged. The STMA “On line” website will still be accessible for registered members, free of charge, for the remainder of 2005 (contact Mr. Sieriel Hoesenie at @cbs.nl to obtain access); although, no updates to its content will be made, and the CD-ROM will not be produced after December 2004. Consideration will also be given to other publications programme cost saving measures.
Keeping the ISI’s financial status in mind, the ISI has established a “Strategic Planning Committee” to identify and prioritise the ISI’s organisational objectives, and to develop strategies to achieve them. Looking back into the ISI’s long and distinguished history, on several occasions, previous ISI leaders have also had to ‘reinvent’ the organisation in order to ensure its relevance, functionality and economic health in the light of contemporary developments. Such a reassessment and redirection are again in the works and further details will be announced to the membership in the future.
I am pleased to announce that, during their meeting in Korea, the ISI Council officially approved proposals for two new ISI Sections, namely the “International Society for Business and Industrial Statistics (ISBIS)” and “The International Environmetrics Society (TIES)”. Proposals requesting ISI Section status for these two organisations will be formally submitted to the ISI General Assembly in Sydney. An update of the “Irving Fisher Society on Financial and Monetary Statistics” efforts to obtain permanent ISI Section status was also presented to ISI Council by IFS Chairman Mr. Paul Van den Bergh, and further developments in this regard are anticipated in advance of the Sydney Session.
The Chairman of the Sydney Session National Organising Committee, Mr. Dennis Trewin, presented Council with a summary of preparations for the Sydney Session (April 5-12, 2005), which will undoubtedly be a spectacular and satisfying event for all participants. Additional details regarding the Sydney Session can be found here. Bulletin #2 for Sydney has been sent to all ISI and Section members, and should arrive at your doorstep in early October.
Although the Lisboa ISI Session may seem like a long time away, Invited Paper proposals for the 56th ISI Session in Lisboa, Portugal, are now requested (Details). As the work of the ISI Programme Co-ordinating Committee, the ISI General Topics Committee and the ISI Section Programme Committees will primarily take place in advance of and during the Sydney Session, it is imperative that IP proposals are sent as soon as possible. A web-template has been established to facilitate the submission process, please see https://www.isi-web.org/404?07session/56thsession-proposalform.htm.
The ISI EC/Council officially approved the recommendation of the ISI Elections Committee to elect 107 new ISI “elected” members, as well as one “Honorary” member, for the first round of the 2004 ISI membership nominations. It is my pleasure to welcome Professor Ole Barndorff-Nielsen to the elite ranks of ISI Honorary membership. I also welcome the 107 new “elected” members (which for a single election round represents a new record, even exceeding the annual number of new members elected since 1995), whose names are listed here. Additional contact details for these individuals are available on the ISI Membership Directory at https://www.isi-web.org/404?ISImembers.PDF.
Recognising that the ISI membership is underrepresented in some geographical areas, the ISI EC/Council has supported the establishment of an East Asian Outreach Committee, to expand the base of ISI members in this important region. Details regarding the composition and planned activities of this Committee will be announced in the future.
I am delighted to announce the results of the ISI officer elections. Together with forthcoming ISI President Niels Keiding (2005-2007), Professor Denise Lievesley has been elected to the position of ISI President-Elect (2005-2007), thus becoming President in the 2007-2009 period. Vice-Presidents for the 2005-2007 term will be Mr. Len Cook, Dr. Nicholas I. Fisher and Professor Gilbert Saporta. An entire listing of the elections results, including the names of the new Council members, are indicated here.
ISI's stand at the 2004 JSM
I had the privilege of representing the ISI at the ASA’s Joint Statistical Meeting, held August 8-12, 2004, in Toronto, Canada. It was encouraging to note that many JSM participants expressed their interest in obtaining details regarding the ISI’s Sydney Session, as well as information about the ISI (and its Sections) and our products and services. I was also fortunate to participate in the 6th Joint Meeting of the Bernoulli Society/Institute of Mathematical Statistics held at the University of Barcelona from July 16-31, 2004. The Bernoulli Society has formed an agreement with the IMS allowing for joint Bernoulli Society/IMS membership beginning in 2005. Details regarding this option will eventually be posted on the Bernoulli Society ( http://www.cbs.nl/isi/bs.htm ) and IMS websites.
The ISI Permanent Office has mailed out more than 900 membership dues reminder notices to those individuals who have not paid their 2004 membership dues. If you have not yet paid your dues, please contact Mr. Peter von Vaupel Klein (@cbs.nl) to ensure that your payment has indeed been processed.
This issue of the Newsletter includes two special interviews. In our ongoing series of “ISI Honorary Members”, we profile Dr. Ivan Fellegi, who has been an ISI member since 1966. We also include an interview with Dr. Eric Schulte Nordholt, who was a project leader for the Statistics Netherlands virtual census. This issue’s “Historical Anniversaries” recognises the contributions of Jakob Bernoulli. Also in this issue, we take a look at the activities of the Marco Polo Committee on Tourism Statistics.
Professor Ole Barndorff-Nielsen
5 – 12 April 2005 Sydney, Australia
Registration is now open for the 55th Session of the International Statistical Institute (ISI), which will be held in Sydney, Australia, 5-12 April 2005.
Preparations for the Scientific Programme are well underway. The Scientific Programme is wide-ranging and includes world class speakers, including Robert M. May, FRS, Oxford University, Clive Granger, Nobel Laureate and the Deputy Governor of the Australian Reserve Bank.
The Scientific Programme will be supplemented with tutorials and short courses. Special theme days will cater for those with interests in finance and statistics, environmental statistics and genomics.
Details on the Scientific Programme, including the list of Invited and Contributed Paper Meetings, are listed on the 2005 ISI website at www.tourhosts.com.au/isi2005. The website will be updated regularly as preparations progress.
Did you know that you can also submit your papers on-line? See Information Bulletin II or the website www.tourhosts.com.au/isi2005 for more details.
A number of Satellite Meetings will be held before and after the 2005 ISI Session.
31 March - 2 April 2005: Issues for Official Statistics for Small Countries (especially island nations), Nouméa, New Caledonia ( www.stat.fi/iaos/future_activities.html )
29 March - 1 April 2005: 14th International Workshop on Matrices and Statistics, Auckland, New Zealand ( http://iwms2005.massey.ac.nz )
4 - 5 April 2005: Statistics Education and the Communication of Statistics, Sydney, Australia ( http://www.stat.auckland.ac.nz/~iase/conferences.php?show=iase2005 )
13 - 16 April 2005: Fourth International Symposium on Business and Industry Finance, Near Cairns, Queensland, Australia ( www.action-m.com/isbis4 )
14 - 15 April 2005: Measuring Small Populations, Wellington, New Zealand ( www.stats.govt.nz/ISIsatellitemeeting )
|Morning||Early Afternoon||Late Afternoon||Evening|
|Monday 4 April||Short Courses||Registration Short Courses||Registration Short Courses|
|Tuesday 5 April||Registration Short Courses||Registration Short Courses||Opening Ceremony Short Courses||Welcome Reception|
|Wednesday 6 April||Scientific Meetings||Scientific Meetings||Scientific Meetings||Optional Social Event|
|Thursday 7 April||Scientific Meetings||Scientific Meetings||President’s IPM Meeting||Australiana Night|
|Friday 8 April||Scientific Meetings||Scientific Meetings||Scientific Meetings||Optional Social Event|
|Saturday 9 April||Scientific Meetings||Excursions||Excursions||Optional Social Event|
|Sunday 10 April||Excursions||Excursions||Excursions||Optional Social Event|
|Monday 11 April||Scientific Meetings||Scientific Meetings||ISI General Assembly||Farewell Party (optional)|
|Tuesday 12 April||Scientific Meetings||Scientific Meetings||Scientific Meetings|
Sydney, host to the 2000 Olympics, is one of the world’s favourite tourist destinations and April is one of the best times of the year to visit. It’s warm enough to swim at Bondi Beach (average temperature is 20 degrees Celsius in Sydney) and being off-peak season, there are fewer tourists around, making it a great time to visit.
ISI 2005, Sydney, Australia, 5-12 April 2005. Come and see Sydney, an exciting and cosmopolitan city located on one of the largest and most beautiful harbours in the world.
The Social Programme will be a highlight of the Session and has been designed to provide participants with an opportunity to relax and maximise networking opportunities.
The following events are included in the registration fee for delegates and accompanying persons:
|Tuesday 5 April 2005||Opening Ceremony “Centenary Celebration - from Dreamtime to the Future”|
|Tuesday 5 April 2005||Welcome Reception “Faces of Australia”|
|Thursday 7 April 2005||Australiana Evening “The Way of Life Down Under”|
The following optional events* will be offered to delegates and accompanying persons:
|Wednesday 6 April 2005||Discover the Historic Pubs of the Rocks|
|Friday 8 or Saturday 9 April 2005||A Night at the Sydney Opera House|
|Sunday 10 April 2005||Australian Wildlife by Night|
|Monday 11 April 2005||Farewell Party “A Floating Affair”|
*Optional events are not included in the registration fee.
See the website www.tourhosts.com.au/isi2005 or Bulletin II for more details.
A range of mid-Session and Pre and Post Tours will be provided for delegates and accompanying persons.
On Sunday, 10 April 2005, the following tours will be offered to delegates and accompanying persons:
· The Blue Mountains
· Blue Mountains 4WD adventure
· Australian Bush and Beaches
· Hunter Valley Wine Country
Letters of Invitation
On request, the Organising Committee for the 2005 ISI Session will provide an invitation letter to participate in the Session. Such an invitation letter is extended specifically to assist participants to obtain travel funds or appropriate visas and does not imply any commitment on the part of the Organiser to provide financial support. For those who require an invitation letter, please e-mail email@example.com .
If you are interested in participating in the 2005 ISI Session, please complete the on-line registration form at firstname.lastname@example.org or return the registration form in Bulletin II to the Conference Managers. Even if you are undecided as to whether to attend or not, you should register your interest to ensure you are kept informed about the Session’s developments.
ISI 2005 Conference Managers
GPO Box 128
SYDNEY NSW 2001
Telephone: +61 2 9248 0800
Fax: +61 2 9248 0800
As announced in the previous issue of the ISI Newsletter (Volume 28, Number 2, page 10), the ISI website has recently introduced a new secured sub-site for ISI & Section members only. Please visit the ISI home page enter the “Log in” section and then simply enter the password (See Newsletter Volume 28, No. 3 (84) 2004, page 6). If you would like to request the password, please contact Mrs. de Ruiter-Molloy - @cbs.nl) . We once again request members to refrain from distributing this password to non-members.
Download the Schedule of the Invited Paper Meetings (see below):
Wednesday 5 April - Friday 8 April
Friday 8 April - Tuesday 10 April
The ISI Programme Co-ordinating Committee (under the Chairmanship of Pedro Luis do Nascimento Silva) and the ISI General Topics Committee (under the Chairmanship of Richard Smith), will now begin their work in preparing the scientific programme for the Lisbon 2007 ISI Session.
All ISI Section members are urged to submit proposals for invited paper meetings to their own Section Programme Committee Chair (the names and e-mail address of these individuals are indicated below).
All ISI and Section members are urged to submit non-Section related proposals for invited paper meetings to the ISI General Topics Committee now! The General Topics Committee ensures that those areas of statistics that are not covered by the ISI Sections are represented in the invited papers programme.
The various Programme Committee representatives are as follows:
Scientific Programme Committee Chairs:
• ISI Programme Co-ordinating Committee: Pedro Luis do Nascimento Silva ( email@example.com )
• ISI General Topics Committee: Richard Smith ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
• Bernoulli Society Programme Committee: Jane-Ling Wang ( email@example.com )
• IAOS Programme Committee: Richard Barnabé ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
• IASE Programme Committee: Alan Rossman ( email@example.com )
• IASS Programme Committee: Professor David Steel ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
• IASC Programme Committee: Vincenzo Esposito Vinzi ( email@example.com ) or Wing K. Fung ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
Standardised forms have been developed upon which contributors can indicate their official invited paper proposal. These forms can be accessed from https://www.isi-web.org/404?07session/56thsession-proposalform.htm
It is also possible to view the Invited Paper Proposals that
have been submitted thus far:
This is an Excel file which is updated on a regular basis.
Members who do not have access to e-mail should contact the ISI Permanent Office for the proposal forms, or to obtain the postal addresses and/or telephone or fax numbers of any of the above mentioned individuals.
Dr. Donald A. Dawson
|Statistical Society of Canada has
announced that ISI members Dr. Donald A. Dawson and Dr. Jon N.K. Rao have been
nominated SSC Honorary members. An Honorary member is a statistical scientist of
outstanding distinction who has contributed to the development of the statistics
Dr. Dawson received his Ph.D. in Mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1963. He taught at both McGill University (1963-70) and Carleton University (1970-99) and he was director of the Fields Institute from 1996 to 2000. He is now Professor Emeritus and Distinguished Research Professor at Carleton University and Adjunct Professor at McGill University. Presently, he is serving as President of the Bernoulli Society for Mathematical Statistics and Probability for 2003-2005.
Dr. Dawson’s research interests include large deviation theory, stochastic differential partial equations, measured-valued processes and applications of probability to statistical physics, genetics, finance and communications. Over the years, he has published more than 140 scientific papers, supervised 24 Ph.D. students and 29 Postdoctoral fellows.
Furthermore, Dr. Dawson is Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the Institute of Mathematical Statistics. He received the Gold Medal of the Statistical Society of Canada in 1991, a Max Planck Award for International Cooperation in 1996 and the 2004 CRMFields Prize. He is most well known and worldwide respected for having made seminal contributions to the study of spatially distributed stochastic processes and infinite-dimensional branching systems, including those now called Dawson-Watanabe superprocesses.
Dr. Jon N.K. Rao
|Dr. Rao is among the foremost
researchers in survey sampling theory and methods. He received his Ph.D. in
Statistics in 1961 from Iowa State University. During his career, he taught at
Iowa State University, Texas A&M University, University of Manitoba and Carleton
University, where he is now Professor Emeritus since 2000. He is Fellow form the
American Statistical Association, American Association for Advancement of
Science, Institute of Mathematical Statistics and the Royal Society of Canada.
He also received the Gold Medal of the Statistical Society of Canada.
Dr. Rao made fundamental contributions to a wide range of topics in survey sampling, including efficient designs, foundational aspects of inference, resampling methods in surveys, analysis of complex survey data, inference under imputation for missing data and small area estimation. He also made fundamental contributions to linear model theory and methods. Dr. Rao is among the 50 or so statisticians in the world list in the ISI Highly Cited web source that highlights the accomplishments of authors whose work has significantly influenced scientific literature. He is a member of the Statistics Canada Advisory Committee on Methodology since its creation in 1985.
Furthermore, Dr. Rao published more than 150 scientific papers and 7 books. He also supervised 25 Ph.D. students and 12 Masters’ students. Even though he is retired, he is still supervising 6 Ph.D. students and 1 Masters. This announcement was made at the Université de Montréal, site of this year’s Annual Meeting of the Society. The Statistical Society of Canada, founded in 1977, is dedicated to the promotion of excellence in statistical research, and the advancement of the statistical profession in Canada.
Professor Calyampudi R. Rao
|The Osmania University in Hyderabad, India, has established a new institute named in honour of ISI Honorary member Professor Calyampudi R. Rao, Emeritus Holder of the Eberly Family Chair in Statistics and Director of the Center for Multivariate Analysis. The C.R. Rao Advanced Institute of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science was inaugurated this spring with a symposium on “Challenges in Mathematical and Computer Sciences”.|
Professor Brajendra Sutradhar
|Professor Brajendra Sutradhar of Memorial University of Newfoundland (Canada), an ISI member, has been awarded the title of University Research Professor, a post tenable for five years from September 1, 2004. The University Research Professorship is regarded as the highest award for research at Memorial University, ranking equally with the Henrietta Harvey Professorship. Memorial University confers this title to at most two professors in any one year and the award carries with it remission of teaching duties, as well as a research and travel stipend for five years. Professor Sutradhar has made leading contributions in various areas of statistics, such as distribution theory for heavy tailed non-normal data, generalized linear models for longitudinal data, generalized linear mixed models, and generalized linear mixed longitudinal models with biostatistical applications.|
|Professor Leopold K. Schmetterer
On August 23, 2004, Leopold Schmetterer died in an accident. He had stopped a car to ask the driver to take him to a nearby village, and minutes later this car was hit by a train on an unsafe railway crossing.
Leopold Schmetterer was born on November 8, 1919, in Vienna. He studied Mathematics at the University of Vienna, where he obtained his Ph.D in 1941 on a topic in number theory. His first publications dealt with geometric number theory and Fourier series. In 1949, he obtained the venia docendi, after having submitted his Habilitationsschrift “Über die Approximation gewisser trigonometrischer Reihen”. After promotion to Associate Professor in 1955, he moved to Hamburg, where he took up the position of a Full Professor and Director of the Departments of Mathematics. Five years later, he moved back to the University of Vienna as Full Professor of Mathematics and Statistics. From 1971 until his retirement, he held the Chair of Mathematical Statistics at the Department of Statistics at the University of Vienna. He was a member of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina (1970), the Austrian Academy of Sciences (1971), the Academy of Sciences of Saxonia (1983) and Bavaria (1984). From 1975 to 1983, he was Secretary General of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.
Schmetterer`s scientific oeuvre is broad and deep. It contains over 100 publications in number theory, trigonometric series, probability theory, and mathematical statistics. His book “Mathematische Statistik” was the first German encyclopedia on this topic and was translated into English and Russian. Pioneering was his work in stochastic approximation, in the theory of unbiased estimation and the foundation of probability on non-commutative groups.
In 1962, Leopold Schmetterer founded the Springer Journal “Zeitschrift für Wahrscheinlichkeitstheorie und verwandte Gebiete”, renamed as “Probability Theory and Related Fields” in 1986. He received numerous prizes and honours, like the Boltzmann Prize and the Schrödinger Prize, as well as an honory degree from the University of Clermont-Ferrand.
|Professor Marcel Croze (1921-2004)
Marcel Croze, a French demographer and statistician, died on April 17, 2004, in Paris. He was admitted at the Ecole Polytechnique in August 1942, but entered the School only in October 1945, after two years as a worker in a chemical factory and one year of military service. In the fall of 1947, having opted for a carrier at INSEE, he entered what was to later become the Ecole Nationale de la Statistique et de l’Administration Economique (ENSAE). After graduation, he was assigned to a job in population statistics and studies, which led him to work in close connection with the Institut National d’Etudes Demographiques (INED).
During some seventeen years holding this job, he contributed to the full range of French demographic statistics from processing and publishing results of the 1946 Population Census to preparing the 1962 Census. He was specifically in charge of the regular production and publication of current population data (births, marriages, deaths, health, etc.). Normally, he was establishing such derived statistics as mortality tables and population projections, also carrying out studies in response to demands from various origins. Some of these studies were published: on infant mortality, on internal migrations, on French youth and its problems, the latter as a report which aroused public praise and interest in 1956.
In this activity, Marcel Croze was benefiting from, but also contributing to, the rise in the level of demographic expertise in France and abroad, as an active member of the broader community of statisticians. From 1955 to 1963, he was the author of a regular demographic chronicle in the main French professional journal of statisticians, the quarterly Journal de la Société de Statistique de Paris. He contributed in 1963 a paper on French infant mortality depending on the social environment for the International Union of the Scientific Study of Population, and in 1965, a paper on the methodology for the use of several data sources concerning the same person for the World Population Congress. This demographic activity did not stop when Marcel Croze was assigned to other functions within INSEE. In 1976, he was the editor of a large book on demographic data published jointly by INED and INSEE: Tableaux démographiques, La population en France: histoire et géographie. He similarly edited supplements to this book, which appeared in 1979, 1982 and 1988.
Croze was my successor as Director of ENSAE during the four crucial years from 1966 to 1970. In the 1960’s, the School was experiencing a large increase in the number of its students and very substantial changes in the contents of its programmes and courses. The School also survived the hectic weeks during the spring of 1968, when the students’ and workers’ revolt shook the whole French society. Marcel was a perfect Director. Not only, with a very small staff, did he know how to supervise daily activities, required adaptations in courses, renewal of teachers and longer term revisions in programmes, he was also quite open-minded, as well as close to the professors and students. This turned out to be essential in his wise management of the problems raised by the special circumstances of the spring of 1968 and by the subsequent spirit in favour of widespread, but of course not all advisable, reforms.
This is not the place for describing his role in the General Secretariat of INSEE, from 1971 to his retirement in 1983, where he was in charge of personnel management. However, I must recall his election as a member of the International Statistical Institute in 1967 and his sustained interest in ISI activities. Just as a significant example, the French Courrier des Statistiques published two articles by him after his participation in the 1979 Manila Session of the ISI. For more than ten years ending in 1980, Marcel Croze was indeed the Secretary of the “Groupement des Membres Français de l’Institut International de Statistique”.
Proposals Welcome for Deserving ISI Service Certificate Recipients
ISI Service Certificates are to be presented biennially at the ISI General Assembly to recognise particularly distinguished service to the ISI and its Sections. Any ISI member has the right to make nominations to the ISI Service Certificates Committee. The criteria for potential recipients include service over an extended period of time and in a variety of leadership roles (or exceptionally for distinguished service in one capacity for a truly abnormal length of time) including, but not limited to, official positions in the ISI, its Committees and Sections, editorial roles, organisation of the biennial conference or Section conferences and representing the ISI on external bodies. The Award is intended to reflect services to the ISI itself rather than distinction in the field of statistics per se.
The recipients must be members of the ISI at the time of receiving the Award. However, services rendered to any ISI Section, before membership of the ISI is achieved, may be taken into consideration when deciding to confer the Award.
The number of Awards shall not normally exceed five in any biennium. Members of the Executive and the Council of the ISI are not eligible for the Award during their period of Office.
Proposals should be sent to the ISI Service Certificates Committee
Chairman: Dr. Ivan Fellegi
Certificate in Teaching Statistics in Higher Education
Prepared by the statistics team of the UK Higher Education Academy (HEA), Mathematics, Statistics and OR Network, this six-section course on Teaching Statistics in HE is offered for full-time or part-time study by university or HE staff teaching, or about to teach, statistics at university or HE level. It has been accredited as a Certificate qualification by the Royal Statistical Society and by the UK Institute for Learning and Teaching in HE.
The course can be taken in various modes
Full documentation, tutorial support and assessment will be provided. In the year 2004-2005, the fee for the full course will be £400 per participant. The Certificate in Teaching Statistics in HE is accredited by the Royal Statistical Society. For self-study or review or trial by a university or HE department, a fee of £250 will apply.
For more details, potential participants or representatives of staff
development units should contact:
A tabulation of the 707 ballots regarding ISI Officers resulted in the election of the following persons:
Denise Lievesley (UK)
Len Cook (New Zealand)
Nicholas I. Fisher (Australia)
Gilbert Saporta (France)
Hasan Abu-Libdeh (Palestine)
Jean-Jacques Droesbeke (Belgium)
Abdel El-Shaarawi (Canada and Egypt)
Wing Kam Fung (Hong Kong SAR, China)
Akihiko Ito (Japan)
Susan Linacre (Australia)
Almut Steger (Germany)
Chris Wild (New Zealand)
Present Council members who will be continuing their service for a further
two years are:
Carol Carson (USA)
Chihiro Hirotsu (Japan)
Graham Kalton (USA)
Ben Kiregyera (Uganda)
Maria Gabriella Ottaviani (Italy)
Jon N.K. Rao (Canada)
Simon Schwartzman (Brazil)
Klaus Trutzel (Germany)
The formal approval of the election results is due during the Sydney Session by the General Assembly, which is scheduled for April 11, 2005. We are grateful to all candidates for their enthusiasm and willingness to support the ISI. The newly elected team, under the leadership of incoming President Niels Keiding, will start its work at the completion of the Sydney Session in April 2005.
ISI Executive Committee (2005-2007)
Nicholas I. Fisher
Newly Elected Council (2005-2009)
(Canada and Egypt)
|Wing Kam Fung
(Hong Kong SAR, China)
We congratulate 1 new ISI Honorary member and 107 new ISI Elected members,
who were elected in the first round of the 2004 ISI membership elections. For
those who wish to contact any of these individuals, please note that the ISI
website contains a component including the names and addresses of all ISI
members (see https://www.isi-web.org/404?ISImembers.PDF ),
and these new members will be added to this list in the coming weeks.
Barndorff-Nielsen, Ole E. (Denmark)
Agboto, Vincent K. (Togo)
|Levy, Paul S. (USA)
Lim, Yong B. (Korea)
Madden, Richard C. (Australia)
Madsen, Birger (Denmark)
Mátran, Carlos (Spain)
Mina, Fayez M. (Egypt)
Miyaoka, Etsuo (Japan)
Mizuta, Masahiro (Japan)
Müller, Werner G. (Austria)
Murphy, Patrick (Ireland)
Nakamura, Tsuyoshi (Japan)
Nakano, Junji (Japan)
Navvabpour, Hamidreza (Iran)
Niki, Naoto (Japan)
Niland, Joyce (USA)
O’Brien, Timothy E. (USA)
O’Leary, Joseph T. (USA)
Okasha, Mahmoud K. (Palestine)
Pal, Satyabrata (India)
Park, Changsoon (Korea)
Pärna, Kalev (Estonia)
Perera Ferrer, Luis Gonzalo (Uruguay)
Petocz, Peter (Australia)
Pourahmadi, Mohsen (USA)
Radermacher, Walter J. (Germany)
Rancourt, Eric (Canada)
Rios Insua, David (Spain)
Saebi, Nasrollah (Iran)
Sakurai, Naoko (Japan)
Sato, Yoshiharu (Japan)
Seo, Takashi (Japan)
Shapiro, Gary M. (USA)
Sharma, Sashi (Fiji)
Shin, Changsik (Korea)
Shinmura, Shuichi (Japan)
Skovlund, Eva (Norway)
Sohn, Joong K. (Korea)
Song, Seuck H. (Korea)
Sorensen, Daniel (Denmark)
Stafford, James E. (Canada)
Szép, Katalin (Hungary)
Tamura, Yoshiyasu (Japan)
Vallecillos, Angustias (Spain)
Van den Bergh, Paul (Belgium)
van der Linde, Angelika (Germany)
van Lieshout, Marie-Colette (Netherlands)
Vittadini, Giorgio (Italy)
Wahlgren, Lars (Sweden)
Watanabe, Norio (Japan)
Wernicke, Immo H. (Germany)
Woodall, William H. (USA)
Yamamoto, Eiji (Japan)
Yang, Hailiang (Canada)
Yang, Yuhong (China)
Yu, Kai Fun (USA)
Yuen, Kam Chuen (Hong Kong SAR, China)
|On August 23, 2004, Statistics
Netherlands publicly released its book The Dutch Virtual Census of 2001,
Analysis and Methodology to the national and international statistical
An official presentation describing the research process and the report's main findings was made at the Statistics Netherlands Office in Voorburg, The Netherlands, to an audience of academics, press representatives, government officials, as well as Statistics Netherlands employees. The following interview, kindly provided by Mr. Eric Schulte Nordholt, project leader of the Dutch Census and one of the three editors of the book, provides some insight into this undertaking.
When did work first begin on the development of this virtual census?
A census is an event that occurs every ten years. The thought process behind the 2001 Virtual Census began during the Census of 1991. In The Netherlands, a traditional census had been common practise till 1971. Some problems experienced during the 1971 Census were:
Non-response: What can be done about non-response? For instance, about two percent of the population were non-respondents in the 1971 Census, should they be given a fine? It does not seem realistic to do so.
A debate regarding privacy came about, as the Government was busy introducing computers. It scared people into thinking "Big Brother is watching us"; therefore, a lobby group against the Census was started.
Cost: Is it useful to pay so much for a census? Besides cost, a traditional census is extremely time-consuming. By the time the checking, editing and analysing of all data has been completed, the figures are no longer accurate. The Monographs of the 1971 Census were published around 1980.
During the 1981 Census test, non-response was one out of four, thus it became clear that it was more difficult to interview people compared to ten years ago. In 1991, the Dutch Census law was abolished. Thereby, it would have been the end of the story for the Dutch Census that is if there weren't any international organisations, such as the European Union and the United Nations, who want to see census results of countries. In 1981 and 1991, results of the labour force surveys and information from the population register were only used for comparison with other countries, none of the results were published separately, and they were solely produced for the tables.
By the time the 1990’s came around, had the ideology switched back to either using the Traditional Census or a Mini-census? Both were rejected, as they were considered too costly. Dr. Cornelis van Bochove was the first Director who wanted to integrate the registers and surveys (micro-integration) at Statistics Netherlands by establishing the Social Statistical Database (SSD). Inconsistencies, such as when did unemployment start, were explored by the SSD. Through doing so, the SSD became stronger. It is very interesting what one can do with integrated data. In 1991, other countries published their census, but The Netherlands did not. For some countries extracting data is far easier than for others. For instance, the Scandinavian countries have more information in their registers and subsequently they can quickly produce their tables. At the end of 2002, I was asked to become the Project Leader of the Dutch Census at Statistics Netherlands. By that time, other countries had already published their first census results of 2001. I was able to set up the project team of ten colleagues by the beginning of 2003.
One important task for us was deriving variables. For some variables, we only had information from surveys. Two solutions were presented for this problem:
Weighting Technique: This technique has lots of restrictions and, thus, is not feasible.
Mass Imputation: The method by which you estimate as best you can the missing data. For a couple of variables, this is a possibility, but not for as many variables as we needed. With Mass Imputation inconsistencies can occur in the data set, for example married babies, which is visible in the tables.
In 1997, two members of the Statistical Methodology Department of Statistics Netherlands created a new method termed “Repeated Weighting”. This method was tested and, soon thereafter in 2000, the software was successfully built.
How can one compare data from a sample-based census to that of a pure census?
For a sample-based census, the sample can be large enough to collect all your data, which means less overhead cost. However, you cannot use it to correct your registers. As for a traditional census, you obtain all your information and consequently tabulate all the data you want; however, some variables may still remain unknown. One important breakthrough was due to a change in the Dutch law. Statistics Netherlands was thereby given the ability to use the registers that already exist in the country. Not all countries' statistical offices have this luxury. The majority of the European nations, even the United States and the United Kingdom, conduct traditional censuses.
What are the potential weaknesses of a virtual census?
There are only a handful of countries that do not conduct the traditional interview. The Netherlands is unique with its virtual census, whereby the non-response problem has virtually been eliminated. On another note, the privacy issues have disappeared as the society's attitude has changed since 1971.
Do the register-based data (Social Statistical Database) correspond to the previous census data? Were adjustments necessary? Which additional sample surveys were necessary (e.g. education level, occupation)?
You can compare data with other countries, as well as over a period of time. No special adjustments were made. The 2001 Virtual Census is more of a headcount in order to see how strong we are as a nation in certain areas. For instance, economic status was an area we explored in terms of whether citizens are e.g. employees or self-employed. During interviews, mistakes can be made, such as the selectiveness of the response. Some variables are not even answered so you would have to correct the data. Still some information was needed from surveys, because not all variables are available from the registers, such as hours worked per week, educational level, occupation; thus, information from surveys was used.
Can you explain the estimation method ‘Repeated Weighting’?
Repeated Weighting is a type of weighting technique. The weight can change depending on the table you need to fill. The European Union requires forty tables in total: eight tables on living, two commuting tables, while the remaining thirty tables are interlinked and produced using Repeated Weighting software. So, it only took one year to complete the 2001 Virtual Census due to the fact that the software had already been set up. The software had been used in two earlier surveys in 2002. My team are an experienced group of people, including a population specialist, employment statistics (labour force) specialists, who experienced a lot of learning while on the job.
How do you adjust for non-response between traditional census methods and this new method?
During a traditional census, non-response has never been a problem in the past because people were jailed and/or fined for non-participation. Later on, non-response became a major problem. With a virtual census, non-response is adjusted with the Repeated Weighting technique.
What was the cost of this Virtual Census in comparison with a traditional census?
A traditional census can easily cost a few hundred million Euros. The 2001 Virtual Census cost only a few million Euros, about 1% of a traditional census. People say that it is unfair to compare because during our Virtual Census we already had use of the Dutch registers, and the cost of obtaining the registers’ information is not included. If you had to create registers for a virtual census, then a virtual census would become more expensive than a traditional one. I would not recommend doing a virtual census if the registers did not already exist.
What are the most significant results of the Census in terms of comparable results?
That depends on your interest. Generally, remarkable outcomes are structure, relation between variables, and disaggregation. More people of Dutch origin work than those of Surinamese origin in The Netherlands, but more Surinamese women work than Dutch women. There are enormous opportunities presented with these data. Once you have the information, you can correct for it. With the results of the data, you cannot derive one-liners as is done ever so often by the press, you need the story behind it. I'm not giving a solution; I'm just simply stating the facts.
What steps were taken to ensure consistency in the data input?
Get the input from different sources. We used the micro-integrated data sets from Bart Bakker's SSD group, so that the consistency of these data was guaranteed. Some surveys, which had already been conducted by Statistics Netherlands, were used, but in order to keep the consistency, Repeated Weighting was used.
What are the margins of accuracy (in the virtual census)?
We want the accuracy to become 100%, but that is not realistic. A main group is missed: the illegals, we know they are here, but they are not in the registers. On the other hand, they also would not participate in a traditional census. There are about 100,000 illegals in The Netherlands with large margins. That is a small percentage, less than 1%, of the population, which makes a difference but not a major one. Historically, there are two types of population. Dejure (used in all our 20th Century Censuses) are the people in your registers, hence the type of population used in our Virtual Census. Defacto (used in some of our 19th Century Censuses) are the people present in the country at the time of your census, so those on sabbatical, for example, are not included. The illegals are a major problem. But for distribution, if you miss less than 1% of the population, then this group will not be a big problem. One question that still remains is how accurate is the information? Information contained in the registers is counted, so therefore completely reliable. With the software for Repeated Weighting, you can also calculate the margin of error. If there is too little information per cell, such as a weak estimate, it is risky and therefore it is not published. That is a main problem of survey estimates.
How comparable is the Dutch Virtual Census of 2001 to that of other EU countries? Have the EU countries used similar variables?
The EU subsidiarity principle is every decision that can be made at a national level, should be made at a national level, as long as a country can fill most of the forty EU tables. Even in a traditional census, some cells may be missing. Also, how much effort does a country take to answer a specific question? Although my team started late on this project, we were one of the first countries to produce the complete set of tables. All countries had to produce the forty tables with the same variables. Countries do compare their results with each other. Eurostat is making a complete final comparison, but they have to wait for all countries to submit their statistics. However, they must be careful with certain comparisons; for instance, there are different educational systems in each country, which in spite of the harmonised classification, may not be quite comparable.
If you were to undertake this project again, based upon your experiences, what would you do differently?
The EU census occurs every ten years. By the time the 2011 Census comes around, the baby-boomers will have retired; there will probably be a different Director General at the statistical office, so many changes will have occurred between now and then. New, young people will have to be hired by that time, but they will need to gain experience first. Many statisticians do not yet know about Repeated Weighting. This Virtual Census was conducted in preparation for the future. For the next time, there are some foreseeable risks, such as decreased members of staff due to budget cuts. Another risk due to budget cuts is the detail of the surveys. Will there be fewer details available? Organisational changes will also have to be factored in; for example, the Statistics Netherlands’ Voorburg Office will be moving in 2006, but where to? This all has an effect on the next census. For the future censuses, we need to try to add some variables to our registers, such as the level of education and occupation. So there are challenges to prepare ourselves for the next round!
|(b. December 27, 1654, Basel, Switzerland – d. August 16, 1705,
Celebrating the 350th anniversary of Jakob (or Jacob, or Jacques) Bernoulli’s birth either late in 2004 or early 2005 depends on your taste in calendar reform. Bernoulli was born in Basel into a wealthy Protestant family that two generations earlier had fled Amsterdam to escape enforced conformity to Roman Catholicism. The Protestant cantons of Switzerland did not recognize Pope Gregory XIII’s calendar reform of 1582 until 1701. Hence, Bernoulli was born on December 27, 1654, under the Julian calendar as recognized by his canton, or on January 6, 1655, under the Gregorian calendar.
Forced by his parents to study philosophy and theology, he obtained a Master of Arts degree in 1671 and a Licentiate in Theology in 1676, both from the University of Basel. At the same time, and against the wishes of his parents, Bernoulli also studied mathematics and astronomy. His was the first of at least three generations of the Bernoulli family to work in mathematics. His brother, Johann Bernoulli (1667-1748), also became a mathematician. Although the younger Bernoulli was taught his mathematics by Jakob, the two quarreled in the 1690’s and became rivals. One of Jakob Bernoulli’s biographers has described him as, “self-willed, obstinate, aggressive, vindictive, beset by feelings of inferiority, and yet firmly convinced of his own abilities”.
After graduation in 1676 from the University of Basel, Jakob Bernoulli worked in Geneva as a tutor. He subsequently traveled to France, the Netherlands, England and Germany, returning to Switzerland in 1683 at which time he took up a position at the University of Basel teaching the mechanics of solids and liquids. He had been offered an appointment in the Church, reflecting his university training, but he turned it down to pursue mathematics. In 1687, Bernoulli was made Professor of Mathematics at Basel and remained in that position until his death in 1705.
In the wider arena of mathematics, Bernoulli made important contributions to algebra, infinitesimal calculus, the calculus of variations and the theory of series. Much of his work was inspired by his researches into optics and mechanics. It is, however, in probability theory that he is best known. His fame rests on his most original work, the Ars Conjectandi, edited and published posthumously by his nephew Nicholas Bernoulli (1687-1759) in 1713. This highly influential work took probability in new directions, taking the initial concepts and results, which had been established by Pascal, Fermat and Huygens in the 1650’s, and proceeding to interpret probability as a measure related to certainly, necessity and chance. Applications of the theory went beyond the enumeration of outcomes in games of chance to such new areas as the interpretation of evidence. There were also extensions to the enumeration of chances by the inclusion of new combinatorial results, such as the development of Bernoulli numbers. Bernoulli formally introduced the idea of estimating probabilities through relative frequencies of observed outcomes and obtained an associated theorem, now known as the Bernoulli’s weak law of large numbers.
On his death in 1705, his brother and rival became Professor of Mathematics at the University of Basel.
|Dr. Ivan Peter Fellegi is Chief Statistician of Canada. In 1997,
he was awarded the Gold Medal of the Statistical Society of Canada. He holds the
Order of Canada, the Outstanding Achievement Award of the Public Service of
Canada, the Career Achievement Award of the Canadian Policy Research Initiative,
La Médaille de la ville de Paris and honorary doctorates from five Canadian
universities. The following interview with Dr. David Bellhouse was taken on
November 24, 2003, and originally appeared in the Statistical Society of
Canada’s Liaison (May 2004).
You were born in Hungary and obtained your B.Sc. from the University of Budapest in 1956, the same year as the Hungarian Revolution. Could just tell me something about that time and your coming to Canada?
I had the misfortune to be born into a well-to-do bourgeois family. Back in the early 1950’s in Hungary, people from my class were not permitted to attend high school, never mind university. I managed to escape this fate in 1949 when my family moved from the small town, where I was born, to Budapest. Things were not well organized there, and so I was able to get away with the larceny of enrolling myself in high school. University would have been totally out of the question with my background if it hadn’t been for a loophole, perhaps placed there precisely for undesirables like me. There was a national competition in every subject taught in high school, and those who scored in the top five in the country in each subject were guaranteed a place in university, irrespective of their background. And so that was my only possible option. I could choose only one subject to compete in, but which subject? Since I was planning at the time to become a poet, my teachers encouraged me to enroll in Hungarian literature as my subject. After I mulled it over, I decided that literature was not really a smart choice because they could always say they didn’t like what I wrote, and how could I argue against it? There was only one subject where there was no argument: mathematics. So I enrolled in the mathematics competition and managed to come in third in the country. With that and a lot of good connections, I got into the mathematics faculty in Budapest. That is how I became a mathematician.
What about coming to Canada?
In 1956, during the Hungarian revolution, I seized the first opportunity to get out of Hungary. The Canadian government was very generous, admitting 30,000 Hungarian refugees. I became one of them, and joined my sister in Ottawa. She and her husband were studying medicine, and they suggested I do the same. I thought that this sounded reasonable, so I registered at the University of Ottawa.
You said you escaped. Did you have to walk? I know of other people who have walked out and into another country.
First, my cousin and I took a train into the mountainous border region of Hungary. My mother had managed to get me a medical certificate that said I was suffering from tuberculosis. I didn’t have TB, but a sympathetic doctor—who knew exactly what this was all about—gave me a referral to a sanatorium conveniently located in a border town. When we reached this town it was late afternoon. Because of the curfew there, it was too late to go up to the sanatorium, so we got permission to spend the night in the local hotel. This was convenient because the next morning we were supposed to meet somebody who would guide us over the border. When no one showed up, we just set out on our own and walked, carrying our belongings in rucksacks. When we encountered an old woodcutter along the way in the mountains, he looked at us and said, “I don’t know where you are going nor do I want to know. But that way [pointing in one direction] there are Russians. This way [pointing in another direction] there are no Russians”. So we walked ‘this way’ and managed to get to the border. I didn’t believe it was the border until I heard an Austrian border patrol. They picked us up and took us to a camp, and from there we went on to Vienna.
And then to Canada. What an amazing story!
I arrived in Ottawa in early February 1957. Ottawa University admitted me to medicine, but I had several months to wait and I wanted to earn some money. Some of my sister’s friends worked at Statistics Canada, then called the Dominion Bureau of Statistics. They knew I had a mathematics background, and they encouraged me to apply since there was a shortage of mathematicians at the time. I applied and was interviewed by Doug Dale, a section chief who subsequently became a professor at Carleton. I could hardly understand what he was asking me, but I must have nodded and shaken my head at the right times. More important, though, were my academic transcripts, which were signed by some very famous names—my professors in Budapest. I think those transcripts probably contributed most to my being hired by Statistics Canada for the princely sum of $3,300 a year as a technical officer, which was a glorified clerk.
So your first job was in Statistics Canada or, I should say the Dominion Bureau of Statistics?
It was temporary until the fall because I planned to enroll in medicine. But by mid-summer, I was having second thoughts about medicine because I really liked what I was doing with statistics. Finally, I went to Carleton University and said, “Looking at your calendar and my transcripts, I think I have actually met all your course requirements for a B.Sc., so I want to enroll for my master’s”. This involved quite a bit of a ‘chutzpah’ on my part, since I hadn’t quite finished my first degree in Hungary before I escaped! But Carleton, a small and non-bureaucratic university at the time, said, “Well, that sounds reasonable. Are you willing to stand for an examination for your B.Sc. material?” I said, “Sure”. What did I have to lose? Three or four professors examined me, and shortly after that I was admitted to a master’s program.
So while working at Statistics Canada, you studied for a master’s at the same time?
Yes, they allowed me to make up any work time I missed. At Carleton, I was the only master’s student at the time. In fact, I was the first master’s student in any subject in their new graduate program. I went mostly in the evenings. There was no formal instruction as such: we mostly discussed reading materials. It was much like the British system, where a reader helps you understand the assigned readings. There were also some projects to hand in. It was really a very personalized situation. I proceeded at my own pace, and it couldn’t have been more luxurious.
And during the day, what were you doing at Statistics Canada? You started off, as you said, a glorified clerk.
I was still doing glorified clerk work, but I found some patterns that interested me. Actually, I still remember the project. I was comparing the size distribution of city blocks in various cities. There were big folders of data, block by block, to be compared with the size distribution of the selected city blocks. They were really very far apart and there was a bias in the selection, which is what I detected by looking at this pattern. That provided my master’s thesis topic, which I ‘mathematicated’ sufficiently to make it a mathematics thesis. Carleton didn’t have a statistics professor at the time, so my master’s degree had to be in mathematics.
Then you went on to the Ph.D. program. Was there then any statistician at Carleton?
No, there still wasn’t, and the course content was mostly mathematics. But I wanted to write my thesis in statistics and they made an arrangement with Don Fraser at the University of Toronto to be the external examiner. As I was also Carleton’s first Ph.D. candidate, they didn’t want to be accused of giving out a cheap degree, so they brought in three professors from Ottawa University and three from Carleton to give me an oral exam.
Were there any statisticians at this oral examination?
No. It was an oral in mathematics. The statistical component was the thesis, and that was handled by Don Fraser.
And the thesis was Sampling with Varying Probabilities Without Replacement: Rotating and Non-rotating Samples, which I assume is a Statistics Canada problem?
It was a Statistics Canada problem. By that time, I was in charge of redesigning the Labour Force Survey. One of the issues was how to select with probabilities proportional to size without replacement, particularly where there is a rotating sample and you want to retain as many from the previously selected sample as possible because it is expensive to throw them away. That became my thesis project.
Is it related to your first paper that was published in JASA?
Yes. I wasn’t completely happy with the thesis and so I spent more time and did some work. Then I submitted it to JASA.
So how did Statistics Canada fit in this whole thing at the time? They allowed you to take a Ph.D. Were they supportive?
At that time, Statistics Canada didn’t have a very intellectual environment - quite different from what it is now - but it was supportive. Here was a Hungarian refugee who looked like he needed help, and they were really very nice about allowing me to make up the time I spent on my studies. In those days, a bell rang at the start and end of the working day. If you were absent three times when the bell rang, there was a deduction from your salary. It was a very rigid environment, and not just here, but everywhere. So letting me have time off and be on the honour system to make it up - after hours or at home, when no one could supervise it - was very unusual.
In 1962, you were promoted to Chief of the Sampling Research and Consultation Unit. You became Director of Sampling and Survey Research in 1965; then Director General in 1971 for Methodology and Systems; then Assistant Chief Statistician in 1973 for the Statistical Services Field; and along the way you kept writing papers. As you progressed through different areas of Statistics Canada and took on new work that inspired new statistical research for you.
Yes, that’s certainly the case. I benefited from three things in my early career. Very early on, in 1958, I came to Nathan Keyfitz’s attention and he took me on almost as a protégé. He was certainly the greatest statistician in the Dominion Bureau of Statistics at that time. Before he left Statistics Canada, he made a very conscious effort to organize a series of meetings with every director, at which he asked me to be present. The two of us conducted a review of potential sampling applications in Statistics Canada. That was really an enormous career boost, not just from my association with the great Nathan Keyfitz but also in terms of the insight that it gave me. It was a unique opportunity to review every potential sampling application in the Bureau. In those days, the only actual sampling application was the Labour Force Survey, so this was really Nathan Keyfitz’s parting gift to Statistics Canada and to me—to encourage the use of sampling much more broadly. When he left, Simon Goldberg, an assistant chief statistician who was one of the true founding geniuses of Statistics Canada, continued to guide me and supported my career. Most importantly, he introduced me to Morris Hansen and Bill Hurwitz when they came to Ottawa. My real postdoctoral training came when Hansen invited me to be a member of the Methodology Advisory Committee in the U.S. Bureau of Census. On that Committee, which was chaired by Bill Cochran, were Nathan Keyfitz, Bill Madow, H.O. Hartley, Fred Stephan and little Ivan Fellegi. In addition to those Committee members, there was a galaxy of absolutely top-notch people in the field: Bill Hurwitz, Max Bershad, Joe Daly, Margaret Gurney, Joe Waksberg and, of course, Morris Hansen. That was the golden period of the Census Bureau and there was no better place, really. That was how I learned statistics. I read a lot but never attended courses, because there was nobody who could teach me at Carleton. In fact, the first statistics courses I took were ones that I was giving.
So now you’re in charge and you want to be able to encourage this kind of activity in Statistics Canada. How do you go about it?
First of all, I believe the most important thing I have contributed to Statistics Canada is an environment that encourages intellectual curiosity. That is part of my own makeup for sure, and why I ended up writing papers. They were always motivated by something that needed to be solved and, somehow, thinking about the underlying theoretical problem made the empirical problem a lot more orderly. Problems manifest themselves in very disorderly fashion but very often, if you can find their underlying logic, they sort themselves out. So it was that desire for understanding that prompted me to do research myself and encourage anybody who worked for or with me. Secondly, there are more administrative sorts of tools. We provide what we call ‘block funds’ for research. Most of our budget is allocated to projects that have a certain output that is supposed to be achieved by the end. Over and above that, however, we provide these block funds to certain professional groups for research. These funds are not tied to any particular project and are designed to support research on topics the researchers and their peers think are reasonable. Another incentive for research is attending conferences: your paper is your ticket. There’s no guarantee it will be accepted, but if you don’t write a paper you are almost guaranteed not to go. So it comes back again to the environmental question. There is no magic. You do it by personal example if you can, by encouraging others indirectly, and by creating the economic means and some incentives in addition. If you hire good people, it takes off.
As your career has progressed, there has been an evolution in the papers you have written. You started off with mathematical papers and now are writing more philosophical papers about the nature of organizations. Do you miss any of the mathematics?
I do, but there are offsetting benefits. I still “mess around” with data, but in a different way. I believe that it’s very much a function of the Chief Statistician to make presentations about what society is about in Canada, based on our own data. I’m no longer looking for methodological irregularities, but seeking explanations of the phenomena around us. Many more people can write methodological papers than really understand how to run a statistical office, so I can make as Chief Statistician a greater contribution at this point. But I do have nostalgia for the ‘good old days’ when I had the wonderful feeling that I could do the job of anybody who was working for me. I don’t have that feeling anymore.
How would you characterize the theme of the papers you’re writing now?
They are about what makes good statistical offices function well and what some of the challenges facing them are.
Some of the key words in those papers are things like credibility, trust and confidence. What do you see as the major risks in this area in Canada or generally in statistical organizations worldwide?
I think trust is a fundamental issue for statistical offices. I believe strongly that there are very few people who can directly test whether official statistics are reliable and credible. And that is a fundamental vulnerability because without proof, it really boils down to trust in the provider. You can’t ‘kick the tires’ directly. The information may be good, but it won’t be used if it’s not trusted. So trust really is fundamental: how to gain it, how to nurture it, and how to make sure we don’t lose it.
A number of things create trust. Obviously, good methodology is the foundation. Beyond that, there has to be a true arm’s length relationship with government. The lack of this relationship is every bit as pernicious as bad data would be. But the existence of an arm’s length relationship isn’t always obvious, so we have to make it evident by what we publish and the kinds of analysis that we do. One of the reasons I put so much emphasis on doing analysis of our own data to highlight findings is because analysis is what the public can consume. Another reason is that analysis is what gets media attention. The kinds of analysis that you put out can signal that you are genuinely independent. So does controlling your own budget without any government interference in how you spend it. If you don’t have trust, as a statistical agency you might as well go out of business. If you gain trust, then you are given tasks - and the money to go with them - that you wouldn’t get without that trust.
Let me give you two examples of what I mean about trust. A few years ago, the Federal Government wanted to harmonize the federal GST with provincial sales taxes so that businesses wouldn’t have to charge two different amounts. They managed to get an agreement with three of the Atlantic provinces to harmonize, but the provinces insisted on first knowing the amount they would have received through their provincial sales taxes - something that could only be done through a simulation involving an enormous and complex economic analysis by Statistics Canada. The Provincial Governments trusted us to do this analysis, even though it involved billions of dollars and the results couldn’t be verified. Because of their trust, we got a lot of extra money to expand the detail, the scope, and the reliability of our economic statistics program.
Another example is when the federal government transferred to the provinces, on two different occasions, tens of billions of dollars for health care. While the provinces could spend the money as they wished, without federal interference, the spending had to achieve certain objectives that would transform the health system. Statistics Canada was approached to develop many of the health statistics that would show whether or not such a transformation had occurred at the end. Again, we got a substantial amount of money that has ultimately expanded the ability of the public to monitor the performance of our health system. That was a question of trust in a domain that was entirely politicized and still is, but in which everybody accepted Statistics Canada as an honest agent. There is an increasing desire in society for honest brokers to play a societal role of arbitration. In our case, of course, it’s arbitration in terms of providing credible information that is trusted. I think that in this respect, we play a hugely important social role that no other statistical agency in the world, to the best of my knowledge, has managed to play to the extent that we do. And it’s uniquely as a result of the trust and of our ability to not just gain the trust but also make people aware that we are trustworthy.
Let’s go back a bit earlier in your career. Back up for a second. At one point along the way you left Statistics Canada in the sense that you were seconded to Washington D.C. to sit on President Carter’s Commission on the Reorganization of the U.S. Statistical System. What was the attraction? Why did you take it on?
There was a push and a pull. In the late 1970s, Statistics Canada was being torn apart by deep management problems and issues. I don’t want to go into details, but I was in fundamental disagreement with the policies that the management wanted to pursue at that time. I took a leave of absence, but my mind was more or less made up that I would not come back. The opportunity to act as a kind of staff director of this presidential project in Washington presented itself just at the right time. The totally decentralized U.S. statistical system is quite different from the centralized system we have here in Canada. I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to look at the polar opposite of the Canadian system.
So what different perspective did it give you?
It crystallized for me the advantages and disadvantages of centralization versus decentralization. A decentralized statistical system is the ‘minimax’ solution, but it’s certainly not the optimum solution with respect to efficiency or effectiveness. It’s minimax in the sense that if the one statistical agency the country has is really bad, everything is bad. That can’t happen in the United States because they minimize that maximum risk through decentralization. I’d say that’s the great advantage of decentralization.
I learned something else in the United States. I went down with the bias of a methodologist, believing that the world thought the U.S. Census Bureau was a better statistical agency than the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But in Washington, I found that the users didn’t know much about the Census Bureau except it did the census. They were largely unaware that it also carried out a very large proportion of the current U.S. surveys. After several months, I came to a very clear understanding of why this was so: it was because the Census Bureau did very little analysis. It produced wonderful statistics, but nobody used these directly except the cognoscenti. The public obtained most of its information via the analyses produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics or the Bureau of Economic Analysis. As far as the Washington elite were concerned, these agencies had the people thinking that the Census Bureau were the “plumbers”. That’s when it crystallized in my mind that analysis is crucial. You can do the world’s best data collection, but it’s the analysis that gains you prestige.
And that’s something you brought back with you to Statistics Canada.
Absolutely. I was asked to come back to Statistics Canada in 1979 because the 1981 Census was in trouble. I came back in a different role from when I left: I made the switch to subject, as opposed to methods, and took on social statistics, which included the census. My motivation to come back was to save the 1981 Census if I could. But I also had the opportunity to put into practice what I had learned in Washington in the social domain: enhancing our analytic output to make it more readable. Our analytic output has increased by orders of magnitude over the last 20 to 25 years, and I could claim some personal credit for that.
We’re getting near the end here, so I have a couple of general questions. One is, again from reading the Canadian Who’s Who, I notice that you are 68, three years beyond normal retirement age. What keeps you going in the job and what do you like about it that keeps you going?
Well, I can almost turn it around. Why shouldn’t I?
I’m asking the questions …
I think I’m really one of the world’s very fortunate people, because I have a job that has a unique window onto practically every aspect of Canadian society and the economy and life in general. There is hardly an aspect of Canadian life in which we are not somehow involved - labour markets, production, sales, immigration, education, health (not just health in general but the determinants of and the outcomes from interventions) and education. One of the unique parts of being Chief Statistician of Canada is being able to set priorities. Through the setting of priorities, I can actually have an impact on what we illuminate, where we put emphasis. That is singularly interesting and satisfying, and it puts me into contact with a lot of wonderful people. You can’t set priorities unless you gain a certain level of understanding of the various places where you can put your money and what benefits might come about as a result of putting some additional resources here, there or elsewhere. It’s a fascinating job.
The Canadian Who’s Who says you’re also interested in classical music and reading. Who are your favorite authors and composers?
I have a long list of those. I like to read at least two books at the same time. One is usually history, and the other is usually fiction. Over the last year’s reading—I can’t go back beyond the last year because it’s too long a list—I really loved Jared’s Guns, Germs and Steel. I also read Margaret MacMillan’s Paris 1919, a wonderful, well-written book. I enjoyed a biography of Khrushchev by Taubman and a book by Norman Davis on Europe. When it comes to literature it’s a very long list of authors. I love Tolstoy, Gogol, Thomas Mann, Flaubert, Stendahl …
What about music?
Music? Again, it’s a very long list, but it certainly includes Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Brahms and Schubert. Of the more modern musicians, I love the Russians - Shostakovich and Prokofiev. And I really love Mahler and Bruckner. In fact, if I had to choose a favourite, it might be Mahler.
Well thank you, it’s been fascinating.
You are most welcome.
Marco Polo Committee on Statistics of Travel and Tourism
The idea for a committee devoted exclusively to the discussion and promotion of tourism statistics first emerged in 1991. That year saw two events that stimulated awareness of the need for such a scientific forum that was to become the Committee on the Statistics of Travel and Tourism (COSTT). The first of these was the organizing of an Invited Paper Meeting on travel and tourism statistics, which was organized at the 48th ISI Session in Cairo. The Meeting was well-received and generated discussion on the need for continuing networking among tourism statistiticians. Second, the World Tourism Organization organized the “International Conference on Travel and Tourism Statistics”, in Ottawa, Canada. A number of key definitions and concepts related to tourism statistics were achieved at that Conference, as well as the call for the implementation of improved statistics and analytical techniques.
The 49th ISI Session in Florence formally recommended the creation of the Committee on Statistics of Travel and Tourism, with Raphael Bar-On (Israel) as its first Chair and Enzo Paci (WTO), Vice-Chair. An Executive Sub-Committee was also struck to guide the administrative requirements of COSTT.
The general aim of COSTT is to improve the collection, analysis, publication, and use of statistics on tourism demand, supply, and other economic measures. The Committee brings together both producers and users of tourism statistics.
Members come from diverse backgrounds, but are primarily associated with national statistical organizations, national tourism bodies, international tourism or statistical organizations, and universities. All share a technical or scientific interest in improving the quality of travel and tourism statistics, and in promoting greater consistency and comparability among international tourism statistical sources.
In 1994, the Committee was also given the name Marco Polo Committee, after the legendary early traveller. The Marco Polo Committee held its first Invited Paper Meeting in conjunction with SCORUS (International Association for Regional and Urban Statistics) in 1994. This was followed by COSTT organizing its first ISI Invited Paper Meeting at the 50th ISI Session in Beijing.
Invited Paper Meetings have been held at all subsequent ISI Sessions, and the Committee continued to attract tourism statisticians from Europe, Asia, North and South America, Australia and New Zealand. The growth of COSTT resulted in the negotiation of a partnership with the Canadian Tourism Commission as its donor agency to fund a COSTT Secretariat at the Centre for International Studies on the Tourist Economy (CISET), the University of Venice.
At the 53rd ISI Session (2001) in Seoul, COSTT arranged an Invited Paper Meeting on household surveys of domestic and international tourism travel patterns.
Most recently, at the 54th ISI Session (2003) in Berlin, COSTT organized two Paper Meetings: an Invited Paper Meeting on tourism and transportation satellite accounts, and a Contributed Paper Meeting on urban and regional tourism statistics.
In 2001, COSTT Chair Scott Meis organized and hosted the first international conference on Tourism Satellite Accounts in Vancouver, Canada. A number of Marco Polo Committee members spoke, both as Invited Speakers and as authors of Contributed Papers. Several COSTT members were also recruited to provide papers to the first issue of the “Enzo Paci Papers” on methodological topics in tourism statistics. The collection was published by the World Tourism Organization and, in 2004, will publish the fourth volume. COSTT members continue to play a central role in providing papers for this annual collection.
In its initial six years of existence, with limited resources, and a specialized mandate, COSTT has positioned itself to work collaboratively with larger established scientific organizations devoted to tourism research such as the World Tourism Organization, the Association Internationale d’Experts Scientifique du Tourism, Travel and Tourism Research Association International, Organization of Economic Co- operation and Development, the Tourism Working Group of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation, Pacific-Asia Travel Association, the Society for Opinion and Marketing Research and the Tourism Committee of EUROSTAT.
An enduring issue that motivates much of the activities in COSTT is the recognition of the need for further improvements in the quality of international tourism statistics. Industry advocates claim that tourism is the world’s largest industry. Until recently, though, the development of travel and tourism statistics and analytical tools lagged far behind the emerging economic and political significance of the phenomenon. An international consensus on how to even define tourism (as well as the various sub-classifications of domestic and international tourism) did not exist until the 1991 WTO Conference mentioned previously.
Over the last decade, a revolutionary breakthrough in the analysis and reporting of tourism statistics has been achieved – the Tourism Satellite Account (TSA). This tool permits the measurement and tracking of tourism in ways that are consistent with those used in conventional industries by National Accountants. The emergence of the TSA has created an explosion in the demand for improvement in the availability, quality, and coverage of tourism statistics. COSTT members are at the forefront of working to help nations and statistical organizations meet this demand.
The work of COSTT will once again be presented at the 55th ISI Session in Sydney. An Invited Paper Meeting on international travel surveys has been organized and will feature speakers from a number of countries who will describe their nations’ experiences in designing and implementing surveys to collect data on international travel patterns, especially on expenditures by international visitors.
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News from ISI sections Volume 28, No. 3 (84) 2004