Bradley Efron

The advances in statistical theory and its applications that you have been responsible for are profound. Not only have they helped to establish the foundation for the modern field of statistics, the impact of your scholarship reaches nearly every branch of scientific inquiry, from bioinformatics and genomics to physics and astronomy. You were a graduate student at Stanford when you understood that statistics, not mathematics, was where your academic future lay. You were drawn to the lifesaving work of the medical school and decided to focus your attention on devising statistical methods that would help determine the efficacy of drugs, genetic variants associated with disease, the impact of HIV antiretroviral therapy, and heart surgery outcomes. You also delved into physics and astronomy, notably modeling gamma-ray bursts. Your achievements have been recognized with honors and awards too numerous to count, the National Medal of Science and the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship among them. Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, to Jewish-Russian immigrants, you grew up in a world surrounded by numbers, watching your father crunch data for local amateur sports teams and reading all the local library’s books on mathematics. From the start of your academic career, you focused on the science of information gathering and the interpretation of data. This approach led to your discovery of the “bootstrap” method, a plebeian moniker for one of the more significant discoveries in the field of statistics over the past half century. By recognizing and then harnessing the formidable power of the earliest generations of computers, you were able to develop a method for determining the margin of error of a given measurement through random resampling. Since you arrived at this discovery nearly 40 years ago, more than 11,000 scientific papers have employed your method. For your curiosity, your diligence, your exceptional intellect, and your legacy of pioneering and far-reaching innovations in the field of statistics, Columbia is proud to present you with the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa.