Calyampudi R. Rao
C.R. Rao Receives National Medal of Science
by Megan Kruse, Public Affairs/Careers Coordinator
Calyampudi Radhakrishna (C.R.) Rao, Eberly Professor Emeritus
of Statistics and Director of the Center for Multivariate Analysis at
Pennsylvania State University, was honored at the White House with the
National Medal of Science on June 13, 2002.
Rao earned an M.A. in Mathematics at Andhra University,
another M.A. in Statistics at Calcutta University, and his PhD and ScD
at Cambridge University. Since 1967, he has received 27 honorary doctoral
degrees from colleges and universities in 16 countries on 5 different
continents, including 7 degrees from India and 4 from the United States.
His professional experience includes over 40 years at the Indian Statistical
Institute as Superintending Statistician, Head of the Research and Training
School (RTS), Director of the RTS, Secretary, and National Professor.
He has over 20 years of experience at universities in the United States
and United Kingdom, including the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
State University, University of California at Berkeley, Johns Hopkins
University, and Cambridge University.
Rao joined the ASA in 1970 and was honored two years later
with election to Fellow for outstanding and prolific contributions and
for his devoted statistical teaching and service. The ASA Pittsburgh Chapter
named Rao its Statistician of the Year in 1981. In 1989, he was awarded
the Samuel S. Wilks Medal for outstanding contributions to statistics.
In 1997, he received the Distinguished Achievement Medal from the ASA
Section on Statistics and the Environment for outstanding contributions
to the development of methods, issues, concepts, and applications of environmental
In addition to his extensive ASA activities and awards,
Rao is a member of eight National Academies in India, the United Kingdom,
the United States, and Italy. He has been elected Fellow or Honorary Member
to 26 statistical, mathematical, or scientific organizations. Since 1943,
Rao has received dozens of medals, citations, awards, and other honors
for his contributions to statistics and science. For example, in 2000,
the mayor of Kent proclaimed May 13 as C.R. Rao Day and presented him
with a key to the city. The government of India instituted a national
award in honor of Rao to recognize and reward young Indian statisticians.
Statisticians and scientists across the world have celebrated
Rao's long career in statistics. In the past decade, there have been nine
special issues of journals from India, the United States, and the United
Kingdom celebrating his life and works. There have also been six special
conferences in honor of Rao since 1980, usually coinciding with his birthday.
The Times of India chose Rao as one of the top ten scientists of modern
India considering all disciplines and the impact of the work done by each
In the Preface to the 1991 special issue of the Journal
of Quantitative Economics in Rao's honor, the author stated: "Dr.
Rao is a very distinguished scientist and a highly eminent statistician
of our time. His contributions to statistical theory and applications
are well known, and many of his results, which bear his name, are included
in the curriculum of courses in statistics at bachelor's and master's
level all over the world. He is an inspiring teacher and has guided the
research work of numerous students in all areas of statistics. His early
work had greatly influenced the course of statistical research during
the last four decades. One of the purposes of this special issue is to
recognize Dr. Rao's own contributions to econometrics and acknowledge
his major role in the development of econometric research in India.''
Rao has served as president of five statistical societies:
(1) Indian Econometric Society, (2) International Biometric Society, (3)
Institute of Mathematical Statistics, (4) International Statistical Institute,
and (5) the Forum for Interdisciplinary Mathematics. He has spent his
entire career promoting statistics and their usefulness in society. "If
there is a problem to be solved, seek statistical advice instead of appointing
a committee of experts. Statistics can throw more light than the collective
wisdom of the articulate few,'' said Rao. In addition to his own work,
he has been the PhD thesis advisor for nearly fifty graduate students
and has helped thousands of others through teaching and mentoring.
Several statistical terms and equations are named after
Rao and are regularly incorporated into textbooks and other statistician's
publications. He has worked with such famous statisticians as Blackwell,
Fisher, Neyman, Hamming, and Rubin, and has dozens of theorems to his
credit. He is the author or coauthor of over a dozen books and hundreds
of research publications, many of which have appeared in prestigious journals
such as the Journal of the American Statistical Association, Econometrika,
and the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society.
The National Medal of Science honors individuals for pioneering
scientific research that has enhanced our basic understanding of life
and the world around us. The National Science Foundation administers the
award established by Congress in 1959 for individuals deserving of special
recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to knowledge
in the physical, biological, mathematical, or engineering sciences. More
information on the National Medal of Science is available online at http://www.nsf.gov/nsb/awards/nms.
Rao was born on September 10, 1920, in India. Today, he
is a living legend whose work has influenced not just statistics, but
has had far reaching implications for fields as varied as economics, genetics,
anthropology, geology, national planning, demography, biometry, and medicine.