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Rao Receives International Award in Statistics

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Calyampudi R. Rao, Emeritus Holder of the Eberly Family Chair in Statistics and director of the Center for Multivariate Analysis, has received the first Mahalanobis International Award in Statistics from the International Statistical Institute. Presented at the Fifty-Fourth Session of the International Statistical Institute in Berlin, Germany, the award recognizes Rao’s lifetime of achievement in statistics.

This prize is named in memory of Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis. Born in 1893, he established the Indian Statistical Institute, and was named Honorary President of the International Statistical Institute. In recognition of his lifetime contributions to the field of statistics, the Government of India instituted this biennial prize for statisticians from developing countries to attract and inspire statisticians from across the developing world, and to motivate them to promote and develop statistical theory and its applications in real-life situations.

One of the world's top five statisticians, Rao is internationally recognized as a pioneer who laid the foundation of modern statistics, with multifaceted distinctions as a mathematician, researcher, scientist, and teacher. His contributions to mathematics and to the theory and application of statistics over 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 spacecrafts. Technical terms bearing his name appear in all standard textbooks on statistics, including such terms as the Cramer-Rao Inequality, Rao-Blackwellization, Rao’s Score Test, Fisher-Rao Theorem, Rao Distance, 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 awarded the 2003 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. In addition, 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 been honored by the Government of India with the Padma Vibhushan award — the country's second-highest civilian honor — for outstanding contributions to science, engineering, and statistics; with being selected as the namesake for a National Award to be presented to the country's outstanding young statisticians; and with receiving from the prime minister of India the highest honor bestowed by the University of Visva-Bharati, the Desikottama award, in recognition of his "enormous contributions in the field of statistics and its applications."

Rao was born in 1920 and earned his Ph.D. and Sc.D. degrees in 1948 at Cambridge University in England. Rao came to the United States 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. He joined the Penn State faculty in 1988.

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 250 doctoral students themselves), most of whom are now employed in universities and other research organizations worldwide, many becoming research leaders in their areas of specialization.

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