About Stephen E. Fienberg


Until his death in 2016, Stephen E. Fienberg served as the Maurice Falk University Professor of Statistics and Social Science in the Department of Statistics, the Machine Learning Department, Cylab, and i-Lab at Carnegie Mellon University. His work included the development of statistical methods, especially tools for categorical data analysis. He has also had a longstanding interest in large-scale sample surveys, including the study of non-sampling errors, the use of surveys to adjust census results for differential undercount, cognitive aspects of the design of survey questionnaires, statistical analysis of data from longitudinal surveys, and formal parallels in the design and analysis of sample surveys and randomized experiments. A recent book (with Margo Anderson), Who Counts?: The Politics of Census-Taking in Contemporary America, chronicles the story of the 1990 census and efforts to use sampling to adjust census results for differential undercount. His work on confidentiality and disclosure limitation addresses issues related to respondent privacy in both surveys and censuses and to categorical data analysis. In the analysis of data from longitudinal studies of disability, such as the National Long Term Care Survey (NLTCS), a number of authors have used novel statistical methodology based on what has come to be known as the Grade of Membership (GoM) model. His work on confidentiality has also led to the founding of the online journal, The Journal of Privacy and Confidentiality, which recently published its first issue.

Collaborating with students and colleagues, Dr. Fienberg focused on exploring new ways to work with the GoM model and generalizations of it, and their approaches have been applied not only to the NLTCS but also to the classification of and linkages among scientific publications. He was¬†also active in the application of statistical methods to legal problems and in assessing the appropriateness of statistical testimony in legal cases; he¬†linked interests in Bayesian decision making to the issues of legal decision making. Of related interest is the report of the NAS-NRC Committee to Review the Scientific Evidence on the Polygraph. Professor Fienberg’s work on statistical methods for multiple-media data (including data in the form of pictures, images, video, sound, symbols, and text) and on disclosure limitation was¬†part of a larger research effort taking place in Carnegie Mellon’s Center for Automated Learning and Discovery and its Center for Computer and Communications Security.

Professor Fienberg was a member of the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, National Research Council; the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; a Past President of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics and the International Society for Bayesian Analysis; Editor of the Annals of Applied Statistics for Social Sciences, Government and Economics; Editorial Board member for the Journal of Quantitative Criminology, Philosophia Mathematica, andResearch on Official Statistics; co-editor for the section on statistics of theInternational Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences; elected member of the National Academy of Sciences (1999); and Co-Chair National Academy of Sciences, Report Review Committee. His recent publications include The Pleasures of Statistics: The Autobiography of Frederick Mosteller, which he co-authored, and a reprint of his 1980 book, The Analysis of Cross-Classified Categorical Data.

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