John Haigh, 1941-2021

We are deeply saddened to hear that John Haigh died on 9 March 2021 aged 79. John was best known for his work in probability and was able to explain subtle concepts and calculations to non-mathematicians through many publications and media appearances. He was also a very active fellow of the RSS.
John Haigh (pictured above with his wife Kay) was an expert on combinatorial applied probability, especially with reference to evolution, game theory and games of chance. He spent most of his career at Sussex University, starting as a research student under John Kingman through to Reader. After the UK National Lottery began in 1994, John contributed a read paper to the RSS, ‘The statistics of the National Lottery’, in 1997. His highly successful book Taking Chances: Winning with Probability was an Independent newspaper Book of the Year in 1999. Other books include Probability Models (2002), and with Rob Eastaway, How to Take a Penalty (2005) and The Hidden Mathematics of Sport (2011 with a new edition due in 2021). In 2012, John contributed Probability: A Very Short Introduction to Oxford University Press’s series of such titles.

He was often invited to speak and write articles about ways in which probability can impinge on everyday existence. He also appeared as expert witness on the topic of ‘randomness’ in criminal trials, including high-profile cases involving alleged fixing of horse races.
At the RSS, John was Schools Lecturer (later known as the William Guy Lecturer) 2005-6. He was examiner for the Institute of Statisticians before it merged with the RSS, continuing with what eventually became the RSS Graduate Diploma until examinations ceased in 2017. He was also involved with all RSS journals: assistant editor of Series B, joint editor of Series D, book reviews editor for the journals generally, and stints on the editorial boards of Series A and Significance. He also chaired the Sussex Local Group.

John was described as 'one of the most modest and honorable people I've ever had the pleasure of working with' by Rob Eastaway, who worked with him on the book, How to Take a Penalty.

Read the full obituary in our Series A Journal written by Charles Goldie.

Photo of John and Kay courtesy of Adam Haigh.

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