Saturday, July 17, 2010

David Blackwell

David H. Blackwell dies at 91; pioneering statistician at Howard and Berkeley
"David H. Blackwell, 91, who rose from poverty in Southern Illinois to become one of the country's most prominent statisticians and the first African American to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences, died July 8 at a hospital in Berkeley, Calif., of complications from a stroke.

"Dr. Blackwell was also the first black tenured professor at the University of California at Berkeley, where he became chairman of the statistics department. ...

"While in Washington, he became interested in statistics after hearing a lecture by Agriculture Department statistician Meyer A. Girshick. After Dr. Blackwell challenged one of Girshick's assertions, the two met and became friends and colleagues.

"They wrote a 1954 book, "The Theory of Games and Statistical Decisions." It established them as leaders in the burgeoning field of game theory, which uses mathematics to understand winning strategies in situations that can be applied to economics, biology, engineering, political science and international relations. "

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