Padma Vibhushan C R Rao passes away at 102

New York: Renowned mathematician and statistician Calyampudi Radhakrishna Rao, widely known as C R Rao, died on Wednesday at the age of 102. He had recently received the prestigious “International Prize in Statistics-2023”, often referred to as the “equivalent of the Nobel Prize”.

C R Rao was born into a Telugu family in Ballari, which was part of the Madras Presidency and is now in Karnataka. In 1941, he completed his M.Sc. in Mathematics from Andhra University and joined the Indian Statistical Institute in Calcutta in 1943 as a research scholar.

In 1945, when Rao was just 25, his paper titled ‘Information and accuracy attainable in the estimation of statistical parameters’ was published in the Bulletin of the Calcutta Mathematical Society, a lesser-known journal in the statistics community.

His influential work has stretched beyond statistics, impacting diverse fields such as economics, genetics, anthropology, geology, national planning, demography, biometry, and medicine. Rao’s active contributions persist even today, leading him to be celebrated as a “living legend” whose influence extends, as recognized by the American Statistical Association.

In 2020, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) of the Indian government conferred a felicitation to C R Rao, when he turned 100 in an online symposium for his “path-breaking contributions in the field of statistics, for recognizing and facilitating the critical role of data and computing to handle scientific and social challenges, for mentoring inspiring and nurturing generations of students and researchers and for developing world-class statistical infrastructure in India”.

Recognizing his contributions, he was honored with the Padma Bhushan award in 1968 and the Padma Vibhushan award in 2001.

After his retirement, Dr. Rao moved to the United States and worked at several universities. Former President George Bush conferred on him the National Medal of Science.

Image courtesy of TDIH

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