Louis-Paul Rivest, SSC Gold Medalist 2010

Louis-Paul Rivest
SSC Gold Medalist
2010

The Gold Medal of the Statistical Society of Canada is awarded this year to Louis-Paul Rivest, professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Université Laval. This award is the highest distinction bestowed by the SSC. It is given to a Canadian probabilist or statistician who has made substantial contributions to the development of his/her area of research through methodological work or applications. The Gold Medal is intended to honour outstanding current leaders in their field.

Born in Montréal, Louis-Paul studied mathematics at the Université de Montréal (B.Sc., 1975; M.Sc., 1976) and at McGill University (Ph.D., 1978). His thesis was written under the supervision of Harold Ruben. From 1978 to 1981, Louis-Paul was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Statistics at the University of Toronto. He then joined Université Laval, where he founded a Statistical Consulting Service soon after his arrival. Promoted to Associate in 1984 and Full Professor in 1988, he has held a Canada Research Chair in statistical sampling and data analysis since 2004. He was a Visiting Professor at ETH Zürich (1987), at Cornell University (1995-6) and at the Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica (2009).
 
Louis-Paul’s accomplishments in research are numerous, both in theoretical and applied statistics. He has authored or co-authored some 80 methodological articles and an additional 15 papers in conference proceedings. He published regularly in the best journals, including The Canadian Journal of Statistics (11), Biometrics (9), JASA (5), and Biometrika (5). He also wrote three short monographs for the Québec Department of Wildlife and Natural Resources, contributed two book chapters and co-edited (with Pierre Lavallée from Statistics Canada) a book entitled “Méthodes d’enquêtes et sondages: Pratiques européenne et nord-américaine.” To date, he has supervised 47 M.Sc. students, 5 Ph.D. students and 4 Postdoctoral Fellows.
 
Beyond figures, Louis-Paul’s career is characterized by a wide spectrum of significant contributions. His publications in directional statistics are well known and commonly used to study the relative motion of tectonic plates. Similarly, the semiparametric inference methods that he developed with his colleagues at Laval have paved the way to numerous applications of copula models in actuarial science and finance. More recently, he adapted the copula modeling approach to multivariate biomedical data in the presence of censoring and truncation.
 
For many years, Louis-Paul has also been working in close collaboration with biologists. He developed, among others, sophisticated techniques used for estimating the size of one of the world’s largest herds of wild animals, the Rivière George Caribou Herd in Northern Québec. His contributions to capture-recapture methodology are also well known and have been incorporated into the “Rcapture” package within the R Statistical Software.
 
Finally, Louis-Paul is also acclaimed for his work in survey sampling. In addition to developing stratification algorithms and small-area estimation methods, he is a specialist of the treatment of outliers in survey data and is the author (along with Jean-François Beaumont from Statistics Canada) of an expository paper on this topic, recently published by Elsevier in the “Handbook of Statistics Vol. 29: Sample Surveys” edited by D. Pfeffermann and C. R. Rao.
 
Through the years, Louis-Paul served the statistical community in several ways, particularly within the Statistical Society of Canada. He was President of the SSC (2000-1), President of the Survey Methods Section (1996-7), Chair of the Scientific Committee for the 1998 Annual Meeting in Sherbrooke, as well as an elected member of the Board of Directors (1987-9, 1999-2002) in addition to serving on a large number of committees.
 
Louis-Paul was also quite active in organizing international meetings (e.g., the Quatrième colloque francophone sur les sondages in 2005 and “Capture 2006,” both held in Québec) and in editorial capacities for Survey Methodology (Associate Editor since 1991) and The Canadian Journal of Statistics, for which he served as Associate Editor (1984-91, 1998-2007), Senior Associate Editor (1991-4) and Guest Editor for the March 2008 issue on capture-recapture models. In addition, Louis-Paul was a member of Statistics Canada’s Advisory Committee on Statistical Methods (1988-94) and served on NSERC’s Statistical Sciences Grant Selection Committee (1987-90).
 
Louis-Paul is indebted to his Laval colleagues in mathematics and statistics for the positive work environment in their department. He attributes many of his accomplishments to his wife Nicole, a lawyer from Québec City that he married in 1984, who has constantly supported him and who keeps him grounded in reality. They have three grown-up children: Yannick, Nydia, and Thierry.

The citation for the award reads: 

Louis-Paul had the good fortune of receiving his award on home turf, in the presence of his family and friends in attendance at the Society’s Annual Meeting held May 23 to 26. The citation that accompanied the award reads as follows: “To Louis-Paul Rivest, in recognition of his contributions to the development of multivariate analysis, directional statistics, survey sampling and inference for capture-recapture models, as well as for his numerous applications thereof in various fields, including biology, biomechanics, ecology, and geophysics.