About the Prize

Statistics are the poetry of science.

F. Emerson Andrews

The quote by American writer F. Emerson Andrews clearly articulates the integral role of statistics in advancing both scientific discovery and our global society over the last 200 years.

Statistics is the soul of scientific enquiry. It is applied by researchers across a spectrum of science, engineering, business, technology, medical, government, economic, and financial settings. These research projects ultimately produce tangible benefits—such as developing new drugs for diseases and improving agriculture crop yields—that significantly improve the well-being of the world’s population.

Statistics has grown and is continuing to grow in its importance to and impact on modern life. With the increasing role of information technology, our society has been inundated by a data deluge, and statistics professionals are society’s true experts for extracting usable information from the mass of noise in these data sets.

At the same time, statistics is an invisible science—unknown to the general public and, perhaps more troubling, not valued as a key contributor to research by most scientists in other fields. The uninformed scientists in this category view statistics as a “toolbox,” totally eschewing the quantum leap in statistical methodology that has occurred in recent years and overlooking completely the experience and skills of statisticians to develop new, tailored methodology that would make their projects significantly better. Because there is vast value in engaging statisticians from the earliest phases of research projects, we often say, “Statistics and statisticians make the science better.”

The ultimate goal of the International Prize in Statistics is to enhance public understanding of the depth and scope of statistics.

Awarded biennially at the ISI World Statistics Congress, the International Prize in Statistics is stewarded and managed by a foundation comprising representatives of the five major statistical organizations working cooperatively to develop this prestigious award: the American Statistical Association; Institute of Mathematical Statistics; International Biometric Society; International Statistical Institute; and Royal Statistical Society.

Mirroring the successful approach employed by other prestigious scientific prizes, the International Prize in Statistics recognizes an individual statistician or team of statisticians (groups of individuals working on similar ideas as teams of individuals or organizations) for “a single work or body of work.” This approach better enables the foundation to present the recognized work of each honoree to the public in a way that enhances understanding of the depth and scope of statistics and engenders widespread appreciation for its beneficial impact on modern life.

Powerful and original ideas are the focus of the award, but a corollary practical and positive effect on the world’s population is factored into the selection criteria. Examples include implementing statistical surveys or analyses or developing groundbreaking software systems of great benefit to mankind.

The ultimate goal of the International Prize in Statistics is to enhance public understanding of the depth and scope of statistics.