George Box Lecture 2004

Professor Søren Bisgaard is the 2004 recipient of the George Box Medal for outstanding contribution to industrial statistics. At the Copenhagen Conference, he delivered the 2004 George Box Lecture. Below is the abstract of this lecture.

ENBIS and the Importance of Practice in the Development of Statistics

Søren Bisgaard

University of Massachusetts Amherst and
Institute for Business and Industrial Statistics, University of Amsterdam

A primary stimulus for innovations in statistical theory comes from challenging applications. Historically, major and minor statistical theory developments have occurred in direct response to the demand for solutions to important practical problems. In this regard statistics is similar to other applied sciences such as medicine; challenging problems stimulate the development of new procedures, methods and theory. A key motivation for the establishment of ENBIS was the desire to create a vehicle that would stimulate positive and productive interactions between statistical practitioners and researchers throughout Europe and beyond. We will in this talk discuss a number of challenging problems that have or are expected to stimulate useful theoretical developments. (Note that the title is a variation of a theme expounded by George Box, 1984.) A secondary theme of this talk will be an explanation of the view that quality (TQM, Six Sigma, etc.), the major focus of industrial statistics in the past decade, is not just about quality ? variance and defect reduction ? but about innovation as more broadly defined by economists. Product and process innovation, typically considered a mysterious haphazard process, can with the aid of statistics and quality management principles be converted into a systematic and planned process of fundamental importance for the economic future of industrialized nations. But product and process innovations and the challenging problems they pose, will require as well as stimulate novel statistical innovations for which ENBIS can serve as marketplace for ideas and solutions.