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C.R. Rao Honored in India and Receives Honorary Doctoral Degrees

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6 June 2007 — The University of Hyderabad, India, recently held a ceremony celebrating the placement of the foundation stone for the C.R. Rao Advanced Institute of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science, named in honor of Calyampudi R. Rao, Emeritus Holder of the Eberly Family Chair in Statistics and director of the Center for Multivariate Analysis at Penn State. At the ceremony, Rao received messages of goodwill and congratulations from the president of India, the president of the United States, the prime minister of India, and the president of the International Indian Statistical Association.

Established in 2004, the mission of the institute is to disseminate advances made in mathematical sciences by conducting workshops, international and national conferences, and short courses on newly emerging areas of science and technology; to guide doctoral students; and to provide consultation services to researchers in other disciplines, as well as to government and industrial organizations. The institute also will be home to a museum illustrating the history of statistics and probability and their uses in research, industry, and society.

Rao also recently received honorary doctoral degrees from the University of Rhode Island in the United States and the University of Madras in India — the thirty-first and thirty-second such honors he has received from universities in eighteen countries on six continents. The awards recognize Rao for his pioneering work and its applications, and for having influenced not only statisticians but also scientists worldwide in a number of diverse fields. The University of Rhode Island award also recognizes his ongoing efforts to promote the use of statistics in national security, industry, business, and policy in Third World countries. The citation for the University of Madras award honors him “for his intuitive gaze into the order, rhythm, and sequence of dancing numbers; for his formulations of multivariate methodology and their applications; and for his steadfast work in the growth of health, communication, computer technology, and energy in India.”

One of the world’s top five statisticians and a legendary name in statistics, Rao is recognized internationally as a pioneer who laid the foundation of modern statistics, with multifaceted distinctions as a mathematician, researcher, scientist, and teacher. He is recognized by his peers as ranking among the most influential statisticians of all time <www.math.utep.edu/Faculty/mleung/probabilityandstatistics/chronology.htm>. His contributions to mathematics and to the theory and application of statistics during the last six decades have become part of graduate and postgraduate courses in statistics, econometrics, electrical engineering, and many other disciplines at most universities throughout the world. Rao’s research in multivariate analysis, for example, is useful in economic planning, weather prediction, medical diagnosis, tracking the movements of spy planes, and monitoring the course of spacecraft. Technical terms bearing his name appear in all standard textbooks on statistics, including such terms as the Cramer-Rao Inequality, Rao-Blackwellization, Fisher-Rao Theorem, Rao Distance, Rao’s Orthoganal Arrays, and Rao’s Score test. A book he wrote in 1965, Linear Statistical Inference and Its Applications, is one of the most-often-cited books in science.

Among his numerous previous awards, Rao was honored in 2003 with the first Mahalanobis International Award in Statistics from the International Statistical Institute and the Srinivasa Ramanujan Medal by the Indian National Science Academy. In 2002 Rao was honored by President George W. Bush with the National Medal of Science, the highest award given to an American scientist for lifetime achievement in fields of scientific research.

He has been honored by the government of India with the Padma Vibhushan award in 2001 — the country’s second-highest civilian honor — for outstanding contributions to science, engineering, and statistics; with being selected in 2000 as the namesake for a National Award to be presented to India’s outstanding young statisticians; and with the highest honor bestowed by the University of Visva-Bharati, the 2002 Desikottama award, in recognition of his “enormous contributions in the field of statistics and its applications.”

Rao is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Science in the United States, a Fellow of the Royal Society in the United Kingdom, and a member of the Indian National Science Academy, the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, and the Third World Academy of Sciences.

He has authored or co-authored 14 books — some of which have been translated into several languages — and more than 300 research papers published in scientific journals. He has supervised the doctoral research of approximately 50 students who have trained another 300 doctoral students themselves. Most of his former students now are employed in universities and other research organizations worldwide, many becoming research leaders in their areas of specialization.

Rao earned his Ph.D. and Sc.D. degrees in 1948 at Cambridge University in England. He came to the United States in 1978 after serving as director of the Indian Statistical Institute, where he had held various research and administrative positions since 1944. In 1982 he established the Center for Multivariate Analysis at the University of Pittsburgh, where he continues as adjunct professor. Rao joined the Penn State faculty in 1988 as professor and Holder of the Eberly Chair in Statistics.

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