Feb 19, 2016

Peter Hall, 1951–2016

Peter G. Hall

Peter G. Hall

It is with great sadness that we report the passing away of Peter Gavin Hall on January 9, 2016, in Melbourne, Australia. He was 64.

During the past four decades Peter was a monumental figure in the statistics community, both internationally and within his home country of Australia.

Peter was born in Sydney in 1951 and earned degrees from the University of Sydney, the Australian National University and Oxford University. He spent many years at the Australian National University, and moved to the University of Melbourne in 2006. He also held a one-quarter appointment at the University of California, Davis, that commenced in 2005.

Peter was one of the most influential and prolific theoretical statisticians in the history of the field. The breadth of problems he tackled, and the depth and creativity with which he solved them, are unique. He made seminal contributions concerning the bootstrap, rates of convergence, functional data analysis, martingale theory, measurement error models, nonparametric function estimation and smoothing parameter selection and published 4 books and approximately 600 journal articles. His contributions were recognized with fellowships from the Australian Academy of Science, the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia and the UK’s Royal Society, and election as a foreign associate of the US National Academy of Sciences, as well as honorary doctorates and awards that include the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies Award in 1989 and the Guy Medal in Silver from the Royal Statistical Society in 2011.

Despite his stature, Peter had a gentle and unassuming nature. He offered especially strong support to young scientists, trained more than sixty young statisticians at the doctoral or post-doctoral level, and had hundreds of collaborators. He will be remembered for his kindness, generosity and sheer brilliance. Few could rip apart a theoretical problem as well as Peter.

Peter was also strongly committed to his profession more generally, and the amount of service and support he provided to mathematics and science throughout his life, both in Australia and internationally, was also extraordinary. He served as IMS President in 2011, as an editor of Statistica Sinica during 2008–11 and co-editor of The Annals of Statistics during 2013–15.

Outside of statistics Peter was a keen photographer, with a particular interest in train photography. He enjoyed travel and was a regular visitor to many institutions around the world. He is survived by his wife, Jeannie and his sister, Fiona.

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