Sunday, 20 February 2011

Hard Homework

From   Tales of Statisticians..

Neyman was invited to Berkeley in 1938. Berkeley, as he put it, was "tabula rasa" - no statistical study at all then existed. None of these deeply rooted London antagonisms: he was getting in at the foundations.
Neyman's mention of two unsolved problems, including the Gosset/Student problem, in a Berkeley lecture in 1940, would have been of little consequence had George B Dantzig not been late to that particular class. He mistook the unsolved problems on the blackboard for a homework assignment, and wound up solving both of them. Neyman took the initiative in getting Dantzig's papers published, and thus launched Dantzig's career. Dantzig's discovery is legendary, and Neyman's generous response deserves to be legendary also: not all teachers will tolerate a student who discovers something in their presence, and few of those will take the initiative in getting that student's work published.

Love these stories...
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