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John Wilder Tukey (June 16, 1915 – July 26, 2000) was an American statistician.

During World War II, Tukey worked at the Fire Control Research Office and collaborated with Samuel Wilks and William Cochran. After the war, he returned to Princeton, dividing his time between the university and AT&T Bell Laboratories.

Among many contributions to civil society, Tukey served on a committee of the American Statistical Association that produced a report challenging the conclusions of the Kinsey Report, Statistical Problems of the Kinsey Report on Sexual Behavior in the Human Male.

He was awarded the IEEE Medal of Honor in 1982 "For his contributions to the spectral analysis of random processes and the fast Fourier transform (FFT) algorithm."

Tukey retired in 1985. He died in New Brunswick, New Jersey on July 26, 2000.

Tukey's test, the Tukey lambda distribution, and the Tukey-Kramer method all bear his name. He is also the creator of several little-known methods such as the trimean and median-median line, an easier alternative to linear regression.

While working with John von Neumann on early computer designs, Tukey introduced the word "bit" as a contraction of binary digit. The term bit was first used in an article by Claude Shannon in 1948.

Tukey used the term "software" in a computing context in a 1958 article for American Mathematical Monthly, the first published use of the term.

Tukey's statistical techniques played an influential role in the development of Dorian Shainin’s simple confirmation “Six Pack Test.” Six Pack Tests were known for being much simpler than t-tests, being non-parametric and having a basic rule set.

Though he believed in the utility of separating the two types of analysis, he pointed out that sometimes, especially in natural science, this was problematic and termed such situations uncomfortable science.

- A D Gordon offered the following summary of Tukey's principles for statistical practice:

- ... the usefulness and limitation of mathematical statistics; the importance of having methods of statistical analysis that are robust to violations of the assumptions underlying their use; the need to amass experience of the behaviour of specific methods of analysis in order to provide guidance on their use; the importance of allowing the possibility of data's influencing the choice of method by which they are analysed; the need for statisticians to reject the role of 'guardian of proven truth', and to resist attempts to provide once-for-all solutions and tidy over-unifications of the subject; the iterative nature of data analysis; implications of the increasing power, availability and cheapness of computing facilities; the training of statisticians.

- "Far better an approximate answer to the right question, which is often vague, than an exact answer to the wrong question, which can always be made precise." J. W. Tukey (1962, page 13), "The future of data analysis". Annals of Mathematical Statistics 33(1), pp. 1–67.
- "The combination of some data and an aching desire for an answer does not ensure that a reasonable answer can be extracted from a given body of data." J. W. Tukey (1986), "Sunset salvo". The American Statistician 40(1). Online at http://www.jstor.org/pss/2683137

- (1972).
*Robust estimates of location: survey and advances*. Princeton University Press. - (1998).
*Graphical analysis of multiresponse data*. Chapman & Hall/CRC. - (1959).
*The measurement of power spectra from the point of view of communications engineering*. Dover Publications. - (1954).
*Statistical problems of the Kinsey report on sexual behavior in the human male*. American Statistical Association. - (1983).
*Understanding Robust and Exploratory Data Analysis*. Wiley. - (1985).
*Exploring Data Tables, Trends and Shapes*. Wiley. - (1991).
*Fundamentals of exploratory analysis of variance*. Wiley. - (1991).
*Configural polysampling: a route to practical robustness*. Wiley. - (1977).
*Data analysis and regression : a second course in statistics*. Addison-Wesley. - Tukey, John W (1940).
*Convergence and Uniformity in Topology*. Princeton University Press. - Tukey, John W (1977).
*Exploratory Data Analysis*. Addison-Wesley. - (1973–).
*Index to statistics and probability*. R & D Press. The collected works of John W Tukey, edited by William S Cleveland - Brillinger, David R (ed) (1984).
*Volume I: Time series, 1949–1964*. Wadsworth. - Brillinger, David R (ed) (1985).
*Volume II: Time series, 1965–1984*. Wadsworth. - Jones, Lyle V (ed) (1985).
*Volume III: Philosophy and principles of data analysis, 1949–1964*. Wadsworth & Brooks/Cole. - Jones, Lyle V (ed) (1986).
*Volume IV: Philosophy and principles of data analysis, 1965–1986*. Wadsworth & Brooks/Cole. - Cleveland, William S (ed) (1988).
*Volume V: Graphics, 1965–1985*. Wadsworth & Brooks/Cole. - Mallows, Colin L (ed) (1990).
*Volume VI: More mathematical, 1938–1984*. Wadsworth & Brooks/Cole. - Cox, David R (ed) (1992).
*Volume VII: Factorial and ANOVA, 1949–1962*. Wadsworth & Brooks/Cole. - Braun, Henry I (ed) (1994).
*Volume VIII: Multiple comparisons, 1949–1983*. Chapman & Hall/CRC. About John Tukey - Interview of John Tukey about his experience at Princeton

- John W. Tukey: His Life and Professional Contributions published in The Annals of Statistics
- John Wilder Tukey (1915–2000) in Notices of the American Mathematical Society
- Memories of John Tukey
- Short biography by Mary Bittrich
- Obituary from The New York Times
- "Remembering John W. Tukey", special issue of Statistical Science

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Last updated on Saturday October 11, 2008 at 08:02:26 PDT (GMT -0700)

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