NYS Assemblymember Karen McMahon (D-Amherst) presented a New York State Assembly Resolution to the daughter of statistician Dr. C.R. Rao in Slee Hall at the University at Buffalo on Thursday. The presentation was part of the UB Celebration of Faculty and Staff Academic Excellence, which was hosted by UB President Satish K. Tripathi and Provost A. Scott Weber.
Earlier this year, Dr. Rao was awarded the International Prize in Statistics from the International Statistical Institute. The award is presented biennially at the International Statistical Institute World Statistics Congress in Ottawa, Canada. The award, which is modeled after and considered equivalent to the Nobel Prize, recognizes a major achievement by an individual or team in the field of statistics. Dr. Rao died at the age of 102 on August 22, 2023.
“Dr. Rao's life spanned over a century, and it is hard to imagine a more productive and impactful career devoted to a particular field of study,” said Assemblymember McMahon. “Earlier this year, I introduced a resolution honoring Dr. Rao for his enduring contributions to the field of statistics and his receipt of the International Prize in Statistics. I was pleased to present this resolution to his daughter, Teja, on behalf of the New York State Assembly and the people of the 146th Assembly District.”
The Rao family is delighted and touched that [our] father C.R. Rao's recent award, equivalent to the Nobel Prize in Statistics, is being recognized and celebrated by the New York State Legislature,” said Teja Rao, Dr. Rao’s daughter. “We are truly grateful to Assemblymember Karen McMahon for her initiative and enthusiastic support in honoring our father.”
“On behalf of our entire University at Buffalo community, I would like to thank Assemblymember McMahon and the State Assembly for honoring Dr. Rao’s memory in this meaningful way,” said UB President Satish K. Tripathi. “It was a true privilege to count Dr. Rao as a member of UB’s faculty, and his tenure at our university served as the capstone to a career spanning, remarkably, 80 years. While our scholarly community continues to mourn his loss, we are consoled to know that Dr. Rao’s legacy lives on in the researchers at UB and around the world who are using his innovative theorems and visionary contributions to advance the field to which he dedicated his professional life.”
Dr. Rao was born in Hadagali, India in 1920. He received a Master of Science degree in mathematics from Andhra University in 1943, and a Master of Arts degree from Calcutta University. He received his PhD at King’s College at Cambridge University and a Doctor of Science degree from Cambridge in 1965.
In 1945, Dr. Rao published a paper in the Bulletin of the Calcutta Mathematical Society which demonstrated three fundamental results that significantly shaped the field of modern statistics. The first result, known as the Cramer-Rao Lower Bound, provides a means for knowing when a method for estimating a quantity is good. The second, called the Rao-Blackwell Theorem, provides a means for transforming an estimate into a more optimal estimate. Finally, the third result provides insights that pioneered a new interdisciplinary field, information geometry, which has had significant applications in modern science.
Throughout his career, Dr. Rao held various positions in the field of statistics and higher education, including Director of the Indian Statistical Institute, Jawaharlal Nehru Professor and National Professor in India, University Professor at the University of Pittsburgh, and Eberly Professor, Chair of Statistics, and Director of the Center for Multivariate Analysis at Pennsylvania State University. He was awarded 39 honorary doctorate degrees from universities in 19 countries on six continents, including the University at Buffalo where he was a faculty member since 2010.