10 May 1939 - 9 July 2008
Poul Thyregod (1939 – 2008) was a Professor of Industrial Statistics at the Technical University of Denmark, President of ENBIS in 2003-2004, a keynote speaker at ENBIS-3 in Rimini (Italy), a Conference Chair of ENBIS-4 in Copenhagen (Denmark) and a recipient of the Box Medal at ENBIS-7 in Dortmund (Germany).
Poul was a student of Anders Hald, a Professor Emeritus of the Institute for Mathematical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen. Hald authored a landmark book on Statistical Theory of Sampling Inspection by Attributes (Academic Press, 1981) that includes Poul's earlier work on Bayesian Sampling (Thyregod, P.: Bayesian single sampling acceptance plans for finite lot sizes. Journal. Roy. Statist. Soc., B 36, 1974 pp. 305-319).
Following the work of Poul is a fascinating journey into the application of statistics. At ENBIS-3 in Rimini (Italy), he presented the now famous ice cream example showing how understanding the context enables children to provide critical insights into data analysis. The data consists of daily ice cream sales in Denmark. The question is what days are Sundays. Danish kids know that on Sundays they go out with their parents to buy ice creams. When in possession of this information, associating peak sales with Sundays is trivial (see Kenett, R. and Thyregod, P.: “Aspects of statistical consulting not taught by academia”, Statistica Neerlandica, 60, 3, pp. 396-412, August 2006).
Poul contributed to our profession in many ways. The list of his publications is very long and includes articles in journals such as International Statistical Review, Journal of Applied Statistics, Journal de Physique, Journal of Chemometrics, Journal of Quality Technology, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society (Series B), Journal of Statistical Computation and Simulation, Quality and Reliability Engineering International, Scandinavian Journal of Statistics, and Technometrics.
The ability to work with engineers and scientists, to be part of the discovery process, and to be able to communicate so clearly what statistics is all about, is clearly a gift. Poul had that gift. His career is a prime example demonstrating how statistics develops by integrating theory and applications. We are all very proud to have had him as our 2007 Box Medalist and to have had him as our president.
Ron S. Kenett