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The inaugural Karl Pearson Prize was awarded to Peter McCullagh and John Nelder[1] for their monograph Generalized Linear Models (1983).


This book has changed forever teaching, research and practice in statistics. It provides a unified and self-contained treatment of linear models for analyzing continuous, binary, count, categorical, survival, and other types of data, and illustrates the methods on applications from different areas. The monograph is based on several groundbreaking papers, including “Generalized linear models,” by Nelder and Wedderburn, JRSS-A (1972), “Quasi-likelihood functions, generalized linear models, and the Gauss-Newton method,” by Wedderburn, Biometrika (1974), and “Regression models for ordinal data,” by P. McCullagh, JRSS-B (1980). The implementation of GLM was greatly facilitated by the development of GLIM, the interactive statistical package, by Baker and Nelder. In his review of the GLIM3 release and its manual in JASA 1979 (pp. 934-5), Peter McCullagh wrote that "It is surprising that such a powerful and unifying tool should not have achieved greater popularity after six or more years of existence.” The collaboration between McCullagh and Nelder has certainly remedied this issue and has resulted in a superb treatment of the subject that is accessible to researchers, graduate students, and practitioners.


The prize was presented on August 27, 2013 at the ISI World Statistics Congress in Hong Kong and was followed by the Karl Pearson Lecture by Peter McCullagh.



Karl Pearson Lecture: Statistical issues in modern scientific research


Peter McCullagh

University of Chicago, USA





I will discuss three recent instances of high-profile published scientific research in which statistics plays a prominent role. These include (i) the `Out of Africa' linguistic hypothesis, (ii) allergy prevalence, species diversity and modern lifestyles, (iii) the role of commensal bacteria in Drosophila mating activity. Issues that arise include experimental design, how and what to count, data availability, reproducibility of the computations, appropriateness of the analyses, under- and over-dispersion, over-statement of the strength of evidence, and data anomalies.



Peter McCullagh: Biographical Sketch


Peter McCullagh is the John D. Macarthur Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago. He was born in Tyrone, Ireland and obtained his B Sc in Mathematics from the University of Birmingham in 1974. He received his PhD from Imperial College in London in 1977. He was a Visiting Assistant professor in the Department of Statistics at the University of Chicago from 1977-79, a Lecturer in Statistics at the Department of Mathematics, Imperial College from 1979-85, Member of Technical Staff at Bell Labs in Murray Hill, NJ from 1984-85 and a Professor of Statistics at the University of Chicago since 1985. Peter’s research interests include statistical models and scientific applications. He has authored two books and published over 75 papers. He has received numerous awards and recognitions for his research, including two Guy medals from the Royal Statistical Society: Bronze in 1983 and Silver in 2005. He received the CPOSS President’s award in 1990. He is s Fellow of the Royal Society, AAAS, ASA, and IMS. He is an elected member of the ISI.



John Nelder: Biographical Sketch


John Nelder John Nelder (1924-2010) was among the most influential statisticians of his time. He made pioneering contributions to statistical theory, computational methods, design of experiments, and data analysis. John’s graduated in 1948 with a degree in Mathematics, after an interruption to serve with the RAF during World War II.  He went on to get a diploma in Mathematical Statistics at Cambridge. He started his career at the National Vegetable Research Station in Warwickshire and became the Head of the Statistics Department at the Rothamsted Experimental Station in 1968. He retired from Rothamsted at 60 and was a Visiting Professor at Imperial College for the next 25 years. John was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1981 and was awarded the Guy medals in silver and gold by the Royal Statistical Society (RSS). He served as president of RSS and the International Biometrics Society. He was an outstanding pianist, and his passions included nature and ornithology.


[1] John Nelder passed away in August 2010.

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