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Reflection on David Cox

Published onApr 27, 2023
Reflection on David Cox
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Although I never met David Cox, I have been aware of him and his work throughout my academic career. David Cox gave the first talk at the first conference I ever attended, the Research Students' Conference in Probability and Statistics in Leeds in 2015. I was coming to the end of the first year of my PhD and the rest of the audience was made up of those at similar, very early stages of their careers. His talk, in which he discussed the importance and role of statistics within science as a whole, was, of course, inspirational, but what shone through most clearly for me was his evident dedication to his work and the field. That he took the time to speak at a students’ conference also reflects the importance he placed on supporting the next generation of researchers.

His influence across statistics cannot be overstated. The Cox proportional hazards model continues to attract the attention of mathematical statisticians while being an indispensable tool for the applied analysis of survival data, and his contributions to logistic regression and related techniques shaped one of the most popular methods in all of data analysis. In common with most statisticians, I have frequently used or recommended these procedures when collaborating with researchers across a range of academic disciplines. As can be seen in the range of prizes he was awarded, David Cox’s work both shaped the field of statistics and promoted the subject much more widely. He contributed to a strong culture of statistics within the United Kingdom that has undoubtedly influenced my career and inspired many young statisticians.

David Cox invested in the statistical community through his 25-year editorship of Biometrika and his involvement in many of our professional societies. As well as serving as president for a number of them, he endowed the Research Prize of the Royal Statistical Society, which is awarded to academics at the start of their careers in the field. Not only does this highlight new ideas in an expanding discipline, but it provides a great deal of encouragement to the recipients and is just one of many ways in which Professor Cox promoted new researchers.

Disclosure Statement

Thomas B. Berrett acknowledges the support of an Engineering and Physical Sciences Reseach Council (EPSRC) New Investigator Award EP/W016117/1.

©2023 Thomas B. Berrett. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) International license, except where otherwise indicated with respect to particular material included in the article.

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