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April 2, 1998

Statistics dept. celebrates 1st anniversary

The Department of Statistics celebrated its first anniversary last weekend with a symposium featuring talks by internationally renowned statisticians including Stanford University professor Ingram Olkin (at right) and C. Radhakriskna Rao, a Penn State statistics professor and adjunct professor of statistics at Pitt.

During his March 27 lecture, Rao emphasized both the ancient roots and disciplinary youth of statistics. (It wasn't fully recognized as an independent field of scientific research until after World War II). He also noted the exponential growth of statistics in the information age, as statisticians collaborate with researchers from medicine, public health and the financial world, among other professions, on "data mining" — extracting precious facts and conclusions from mountains of data.

Pitt statistics department chairperson Allan Sampson pointed out that in any given year, about 20 percent of undergraduates here take some kind of statistics course. It is estimated that as many as 70 percent of undergrads will take at least one statistics course, he said.

"We look forward to the future in a field that enjoys explosive growth and a terrific job market," Sampson said. "There are routinely more jobs than graduates in statistics."

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