Renowned statistician and former RSS President, Professor James Durbin, dies
It is with much regret that we report the death of the former Royal Statistical Society president, Professor James Durbin.
Jim Durbin was Professor of Statistics at the LSE until his retirement in 1988, during which time he was a Council member and vice president of the RSS for a number of years before becoming President (1986-87). As well as his tenureship as RSS President, he was also a Fellow of the British Academy and President of the International Statistical Institute. In 2008 he was awarded the Guy Medal in Gold for a lifetime’s achievement in statistics.
A Cambridge graduate, Durbin’s research has made significant contributions to the fields of statistics and econometrics. Together with Australian researcher Geof Watson, he developed the well known Durbin-Watson test statistic for serial correlation in regression residuals. His work on errors in variables led to the development of the Durbin-Wu-Hausman test, and he was also responsible for the Durbin-Levinson method, which is implemented in most time series software packages.
Although much of his work was theory based, he also tackled practical issues, such as the effects of seat belt legislation on road casualties in Great Britain, a project that led him to develop methods for estimating time series with non-Gaussian features.
When he was awarded the 2008 Royal Statistical Society’s Guy Medal in Gold, the citation spoke of his ‘highly influential contributions which have given him outstanding international recognition as a leader in our field.’
Valerie Isham, president of the Royal Statistical Society, said: ‘Jim Durbin was a towering figure in UK statistics for more than 60 years who will be much missed by colleagues worldwide. He was held in high international regard for his seminal work in time-series and econometrics, but within the RSS we remember him especially for his long service and wise counsel to the Society as council member and president.’
A full obituary is to be published in the RSS Journal Series A.
*NB: This article was updated on 27 June, 2012
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