Feb 16, 2018

Knighthood for Bernard Silverman

Former IMS President, Annals of Statistics and IMS Bulletin editor Bernard Silverman was knighted in the UK’s 2018 New Year Honours List for public service and services to Science. Bee Gees singer Barry Gibb and Beatles drummer Ringo Starr (among others) also received the same honour.

Sir Bernard Silverman’s research has ranged widely across theoretical and practical aspects of statistics, and is recognized as a pioneer of computational statistics. He has published extensively, covering aspects from the fundamental mathematical properties of new methods to computer packages for their implementation, and has also collaborated with researchers in many other scientific fields and provided statistical consultancy in industry, commerce and Government.

Following the award of a Gold Medal at the 1970 International Mathematical Olympiad, Bernard studied Mathematics and then Statistics at Cambridge University. In parallel with his doctoral research into computational statistics, he co-designed the first pocket programmable calculator, the Sinclair Cambridge Programmable. He went on to senior academic and leadership posts at the Universities of Bath, Bristol and Oxford, and also spent substantial time as a visitor at Stanford and other universities. From 2010–2017 he worked as Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government’s Home Office. He now works freelance, including research, charity trusteeship, consultancy, and advice to Government.

His main current research activity is in modern slavery, building on his work for the Home Office in producing the first scientific estimate of the prevalence of modern slavery in the UK. His estimate of 10,000 to 13,000 victims played a pivotal role in the launch of the strategy leading to the Modern Slavery Act 2015, and he is now involved in developing the methodology further and in applying it world-wide.

His other main interest is in security, as chair of the panel set up to give specialist advice to the senior judges who provide independent oversight of the use of investigatory powers by intelligence agencies, police forces and other public authorities.  In addition, his concerns include the modernization of the census, research integrity, scientific matters relevant to public policy generally, and diversity and equality issues.

As well as being an IMS Fellow, Bernard (we should now say Sir Bernard) is a Fellow of the UK Royal Society and the Academy of Social Sciences, and a recipient of the COPSS Presidents’ Award and the RSS Guy Medals in Silver and Bronze. He has been awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Science by the Universities of St Andrews, Lancaster, Bath and Bristol.

Cartoon by Neil Kerber


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