I. Richard Savage, emeritus professor and former chair of the Department of Statistics at Yale and a world-renowned expert in the use of statistics in public affairs, such as AIDS diffusion, DNA fingerprinting, human rights and national defense, died on June 4 at age 78 in New Haven.
A specialist in population censuses and related topics, Savage also focused his research on the role of mathematical applications in the undergraduate Yale curriculum, statistics for allocations of funds, modification of census counts, ability testing of handicapped people and social statistical systems. He was asked to participate in the first National Research Council study of undercount in the U.S. census.
Savage is one of a few mathematical statisticians of his generation who chose to pursue the application of statistical principles and concepts to problems of public policy. Savage began his research in a part of mathematical statistics known as nonparametric statistics, with a particular interest in rank orders. His first published paper in 1953 was a review of that literature. He made many important contributions to this field, among them the well-known Chernoff-Savage theorem, developed with Herman Chernoff.
Savage received his bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago, a master's degree from the University of Michigan and a doctoral degree from Columbia University. His career included three years as a mathematical statistician at the National Bureau of Standards and visiting professorships at Stanford University, Harvard Business School and the Imperial College of London. While at Stanford Savage served as statistical consultant to the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. He was a faculty member at the University of Minnesota from 1957 to 1963 and at Florida State University from 1963 to 1974, at which time he joined the Yale faculty.
Savage was elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1982. He was also a fellow of the American Statistical Association and the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, a member of the International Statistical Institute, and editor of the Journal of the American Statistical Association and of the Annals of Statistics. He served from 1972 to 1980 on National Research Council committees and served as president of the American Statistical Association in 1984.
Savage's brother, the late Leonard "Jimmie" Savage also served as chair of the statistics department at Yale from 1969 -1971.
Savage is survived by his wife, JoAnn; daughters, Martha and Donna; and grandchildren, Adam, Max and Rose.
Donations in Savage's honor may be made to Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, 20 Roszel Road, Princeton, NJ 08540, 866-RFBD-585 (866-732-3585).