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M. Abraham Girshick

photo of Abe Girshick

"There is very little that has been produced by the Statistics Department which does not represent his ideas or his spirit."

Al Bowker, the founding chair of our department, was interviewed by Ingram Olkin for a series of conversations published in Statistical Science. There he reminisced about his early negotiations with Stanford president Wallace Sterling concerning the formation of a separate Statistics Department, saying, "In some ways, the turning point was the availability of Abe Girshick to join the department.... He was a warm and attractive person who drew in other scholars." After working with Harold Hotelling during his graduate studies at Columbia University — later returning there to pursue a PhD under Abraham Wald — Girshick had been at RAND following a very distinguished career in government service. He joined the faculty at Stanford University as Professor of Statistics in 1948.

In 1955, writing Girshick's obituary with David Blackwell, Bowker added, "His intellectual leadership, in both the Statistics Department and [its] projects, and enthusiastic interest in scholarly work were major factors in the growth of Statistics at Stanford." At the time of his death Abe was exploring the role of invariance in statistical problems; this work was continued actively at Stanford and became one of the major themes of research in the developing Statistics Department.