We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of one of the most important statisticians of the past century, Sir David Cox.
Sir David was internationally renowned for his groundbreaking work in statistics and applied probability, including the development of the Cox Model, that is widely used in analysis of survival data and helps researchers to more easily identify the risks of specific factors for mortality and other survival outcomes for different patients. But the model has also been applied in many other fields of science and engineering; his 1972 paper in which it was developed, is one of the most cited papers of all time.
As well as his immense contributions to statistical research, Sir David will be remembered as a boundlessly generous and supportive friend to generations of statisticians. His kindness and humility were as remarkable as his genius.
His long career in statistics, which included a remarkable 25 years editing the statistics journal Biometrika,(1966-1991), carried on well into his 90s. In 2014 he gave an RSS 180th anniversary lecture on Statistics past, present and future, and in 2018 he spoke ‘In gentle praise of significance tests’ at the RSS Annual Conference.
He received the Royal Statistical Society’s highest honour, the Guy Medal in Gold, in 1973 (the same year he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society), and was RSS President during the period 1980-1982. He was knighted in 1985 and in 2010 was awarded the Royal Society’s prestigious Copley Medal, an award previously given to other towering figures such as Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein.
In 2017, he was the first ever recipient of the International Prize in Statistics, which noted how his work led to ‘life-changing breakthroughs with far reaching societal impacts’ such as research into the effects of smoking and risk factors for diseases such as lung cancer and cystic fibrosis.
Last year, the RSS renamed its Research Prize for promising young researchers as the ‘David Cox Research Prize’, in his honour and acknowledgment of his long-term funding of this prize.
A full obituary will be published in our Series A journal in due course.
Photo shows Sir David Cox speaking at the RSS Conference.