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An Accidental Statistician: The Life and Memories of George E. P. Box by George E. P. Box

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Chapter Three

ICI and the Statistical Methods Panel

While I was a student at the university, my three-month summers were spent working for Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) where I was later employed. The company was huge and was divided up into divisions located at different places in Great Britain. The divisions included dyestuffs, paints, textiles, pharmaceuticals, heavy chemicals, explosives, and so on.

The first year I was an assistant to Mr. L. R. Connor at ICI's London headquarters, where as a vacation student, I earned four pounds a week. Mr. Connor was a lawyer and was a very precise gentleman. After I had been with him for about a month, he suddenly asked me whether ICI had been paying my four pounds a week. I said that no, I hadn't been paid yet, but I wasn't depending on it to survive. Mr. Connor, said, rather gravely, “That's all very well, but suppose you were to sue ICI?” Somehow I didn't think I'd get very far suing one of the largest companies in post-war Britain.

At the time of my first summer, the Statistical Methods Panel, which ICI had established to coordinate the statistical work of its various divisions, had just finished writing the book, Statistical Methods in Research and Production, often called “Little Davies” after it's editor, O. L. Davies. It had been written by scientists at ICI for internal use. Someone thought that it would be a good idea to ask Lord McGowan, the company's CEO, to write a few words for the preface. ...

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