David V. Hinkley, 1944-2019


We are sorry to inform you that David Hinkley passed away peacefully in his sleep on 11 January 2019. 

Students of the theory of statistics will know David through the book Theoretical Statistics co-authored with David Cox and published by Chapman and Hall in 1974. In laying out the key concepts of the theory of inference with a focus on statistical, rather than mathematical, thinking, it marked a new approach to the discipline focussed on the needs of science, rather than the formal mathematical structures, and was very influential in advancing the field of statistics through the 1970s, 1980s and beyond.

David also co-authored the book Bootstrap Methods and their Application with Anthony Davison, published at a time when new papers on the bootstrap were appearing at a rapid pace and giving a balanced account of the theory, its successes and failures, the range of applications and the critical importance of reliable software.

In 1978 he co-authored with Efron a particularly influential paper for the development of statistical theory: "Assessing the accuracy of the maximum likelihood estimator: Observed versus expected Fisher information”, which preceded a rapid and exciting development of asymptotic theory of statistical inference, its relationship to conditioning and the development of improved approximations to likelihood inference. Some of this early work was summarized in a paper in The Canadian Journal of Statistics in 1980 simply called “Likelihood”; this paper was based on an invited talk given to the Statistical Society of Canada and had a large impact on research in likelihood theory and methods.

David was a PhD student at Imperial College, London, and a professor of statistics at the University of Minnesota, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Oxford and the University of California at Santa Barbara. In 1984 he was awarded the COPSS award, the statistical equivalent of the Fields Medal; his other honours include fellowships of the American Statistical Association, the Institute of Mathematical Statistics and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and elected membership of the International Statistical Institute.

David leaves his children, Sara and Steve, four grandchildren and many friends and colleagues who appreciated his clarity of thought, his brilliant lectures, his lively and broad-ranging intellect, his wry humour and his passions for soccer and for photography.


Nancy Reid, Anthony Davison and Valerie Ventura

Monday, January 28, 2019

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