Workshop on Methods and Applications in Modern Statistics Held to Honor David Ruppert
A four day workshop in honor of the 60th birthday of David Ruppert, Andrew Schultz Jr. Professor of Engineering, was held in early June at Keystone Resort, near Vail, Colorado. The workshop featured talks, poster sessions, and breakout sessions that provided the opportunity for exchanges and collaboration.
The program for the workshop was broad: as Ruppert's former student Karen Bandeen-Roche noted, attendees were "a surprisingly diverse group intellectually, spanning the highly theoretical to the very applied aspects of our field of statistics."
Bandeen-Roche is Professor of Biostatistics at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She commented that "I felt transported back to a really happy time of my life" at the workshop, which provided an opportunity for friends and fellow professionals to get together on an academic and social basis.
Ruppert joined the ORIE faculty as a professor in 1987 after ten years on the faculty of the Department of Statistics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was an undergraduate in mathematics at Cornell and holds an MA in math from the University of Vermont and a Ph.D. in Statistics from Michigan State University. He is the author or coauthor of more than 130 books, papers and articles on a broad array of topics in theoretical and applied statistics, with applications ranging from bioscience to finance. His recent books include Statistics and Finance: an Introduction(Springer, 2003) and Semiparametric Regression (Cambridge University Press 2003, with M. P. Wand and R. J. Carroll).
According to his recent student Ciprian Crainiceanu (left), an assistant professor and colleague of Bandeen-Roche at Johns Hopkins, Ruppert is "one of the most influential statisticians of our times" and his papers are among the most cited in mathematics.
The conference was organized by Naisyin Wang (right), a former statistics Ph.D.student of Ruppert's who is Professor of Statistics and Toxicology at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. She acknowledges the help of Ruppert's friends and students, saying that "I have never had so much support in help in organizing an event - everyone wanted to do something for David."
|David Ruppert responds to a comment by Raymond Carroll as Douglas Simpson and former student Trevor Park look on.|
In remarks opening the workshop, Raymond J. Carroll, Distinguished Professor of Statistics, Nutrition and Toxicology at Texas A&M and a frequent collaborator with Ruppert, reviewed some of his important papers. Carroll began with Ruppert's Ph.D. thesis, later published in the Annals of Statistics, on stochastic approximation, a technique for analyzing the underlying relationships implicit in data that have not been measured with perfect accuracy. Carroll called attention to a "classic David Ruppert applied paper" applying these and related ideas to the population dynamics of Atlantic menhaden, with applications to managing the Atlantic menhaden fishery, as well as to several other landmark papers in statistics. Several of Ruppert's major contributions deal with splines, which are polynomials, fit to different ranges within the observed data, that are pieced together to form a smooth curve to use in predicting outcomes.
|Snow geese on Cayuga Lake, seen from an airplane piloted by former student Emmanuel Sharef (© D. Ruppert)|
Following the workshop, several of Ruppert's former students (including some who were not at the meeting) mentioned the clarity of his teaching, the wisdom of his research guidance, and the value of his professional mentoring. Bandeen-Roche noted that he "saw to it that I got exposure giving invited talks...as I was preparing to go on the interview circuit" as a student, and much later "spearheaded my nomination and naming as an American Statistical Association Fellow." Crainiceanu mentioned Ruppert's help in "smoothing out my rougher scientific and personal edges." John Staudenmayer (right), now an assistant professor of mathematics and statistics at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, MA, recalls that Ruppert was "a terrific advisor. He pointed me toward an interesting problem and encouraged me to work on it. He steered , but I still felt that it was my project."
|Trevor Park speaks about the statistics of 'artistic qualities' at the workshop.|
Trevor Park, now an assistant professor in the Department of Statistics at the University of Florida in Gainesville, admires Ruppert's ability as a teacher. Park served as teaching assistant for a data mining course taught by Ruppert. "Though he had never taught a data mining course before, and may have had to teach it on short notice, he was highly effective at teaching it, and I believe that his students were very satisfied with the course," Park said.
Victoria (Tory) Chen, now Professor of Industrial and Management Systems Engineering at the University of Texas, Arlington TX, said that, although her thesis research on experimental design in continuous-state stochastic dynamic programming was largely done with Professor Christine Shoemaker, "David provided two critical pieces of advice" on statistical methods that she continues to work with in her research.
One of Ruppert's most recent students, Minbok Kim (right), noted that Ruppert instilled "an appreciation for orginality and constructive criticism about the common standards and norms" based on Kim's own intellect and opinions. He said that "David encouraged me to become an independent thinker and have my own perspective on fundamentals by working out details. Most of all, I have found that statistics can be fun!" Kim added. Kim is currently an assistant manager in the Capital Markets Business Division of Samsung Securities. Another recent student, Emmanuel Sharef, said that "in the course of my work with David, I acquired a skill set that helped me launch my career, and will continue to be valuable in the coming years." Sharef has just joined Morgan Stanley in New York City as a strategist on the securitized products desk.
|During a pause in the conference, attendees hiked to a point overlooking Dillon reservoir, near the conference site.|
Ruppert, who grew up in northern New Jersey, is an avid outdoorsman, mountain and road bicyclist, and photographer. He was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics in 1986 and of the American Statistical Society in 1989.
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