Noted Indian-American mathematician and statistician Calyampudi Radhakrishna Rao has been awarded the 2023 International Prize in Statistics for his work more than 75 years back, which continues to exert a profound influence on science. The award is often considered the “Nobel Prize” of math and statistics.
Rao, 102, will receive the prize, which comes with a $80,000 award, this July at the biennial International Statistical Institute World Statistics Congress in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
“In awarding this prize, we celebrate the monumental work by C.R. Rao that not only revolutionized statistical thinking in its time but also continues to exert enormous influence on human understanding of science across a wide spectrum of disciplines,” said Guy Nason, Chair of the International Prize in Statistics Foundation, in a statement.
Rao demonstrated three fundamental results that paved the way for the modern field of statistics and provided statistical tools heavily used in science today in his 1945 paper published in the Bulletin of the Calcutta Mathematical Society.
Combined, these results help scientists more efficiently extract information from data.
Rao is currently a professor emeritus at Pennsylvania State University and Research Professor at the University at Buffalo.
Born in 1920 in Karnataka, he was the eighth child born in a family of six brothers and four sisters.
He secured an MSc in Mathematics at Andhra University in 1941, an M.A. in statistics from Calcutta University in 1943 and a PhD degree at King’s College in Cambridge University in 1948.
Cambridge University awarded him the prestigious Sc.D. degree in 1965, and he has received 31 Honorary Doctoral degrees from universities in 18 countries.
In India, under the direction of P.C. Mahalanobis, Rao worked to set up statistical bureaus in different states and developed a network of statistical agencies at the district level for collecting data.
India honoured Rao with a Padma Bhushan in 1968 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2001. It has also instituted a biennial national award in Statistics known as the ‘The Professor C.R. Rao’ award.
In his honour, the Pennsylvania State University has established a C.R. and Bhargavi Rao Prize in Statistics.
The first International Prize in Statistics was awarded in 2017 to David R. Cox for the development of the Cox proportional hazards model, which allows researchers to investigate patient survival rates in complex studies.
Awarded biennially at the ISI World Statistics Congress, the International Prize in Statistics aims to enhance public understanding of the depth and scope of statistics.