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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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The time has come, ‘the walrus said,’ to talk of many things. Of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings…

Chapter Five

An Invitation to the United States

I was happy with what I was doing at ICI, and I had had no thought of academia. But in the course of solving practical problems, I had come up with a number of ideas for the development of statistical methods and had published them. In 1952, I was surprised to receive a letter from North Carolina State University at Raleigh, which had established one of the first departments of statistics in the United States.1 The letter was from Miss Gertrude Cox, who famously ran the Institute of Statistics with departments on both the Raleigh and Chapel Hill campuses. It was an invitation to spend a year at Raleigh as a “Visiting Research Professor.”

I later found out how this came about. J. Stuart Hunter, then a graduate student at Raleigh, had worked during the summer vacation at the Army Research Office (ARO) (Figure 5.1). Stu had seen the paper I had written at ICI with K. B. Wilson in 1951, which concerned the experimental determination of optimal process conditions. He showed this to Frank Grubbs, who was in charge of ARO, and Frank proposed to Gertrude that she use some ARO funds to invite me over. The ICI board of directors gave me a year's leave of absence, but they made it clear that they wanted me back.

Figure 5.1 George Box, Ralph Hader, and Stu Hunter.

At that time, I had not submitted my Ph.D. thesis. People ...

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