Person: Savage, Leonard Jimmie
Leonard Jimmie Savage was an American mathematician and statistician.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- The first question that the reader will naturally ask, therefore, is why Jimmie Savage is named Savage.
- The reason he was called 'Jimmie Savage' is even more complicated.
- However, the name 'Jimmie' stuck and he was known as Jimmie as he was growing up.
- Many years later, when Jimmie was undertaking classified war work, he had his name legally changed from Leonard Ogashevitz to Leonard Jimmie Savage.
- Although known as Jimmie all his life, he wrote his papers under the name Leonard Savage.
- Jimmie would not have had as productive a life nor as happy a one.
- Jimmie had a difficult time growing up.
- His parents tried to improve matters by sending Jimmie to boarding school but he later described the year spent there as one of the worst in his life.
- Both Jimmie and Joan had rather unpleasant experiences there.
- At the University of Michigan things again went badly for Savage who, because of his poor eyesight, caused a fire in the chemistry laboratory.
- Their eldest son, Sam Linton Savage, received his Ph.D. in computer science from Yale University in 1973.
- In 1941 Savage received his PhD with a thesis was on metric and differential geometry.
- In 1944, still undertaking war work, he joined the Statistical Research Group at Columbia University as a Research Associate - this move into statistics was suggested by von Neumann who had recognised Savage's talents when he was at Princeton.
- Remaining at Chicago, Savage was one of the founders of the Statistics Department there in 1949.
- In 1954 Savage was promoted to professor at Chicago and he served as Chairman of the Statistics Department from 1956 to 1959.
- Savage wrote on the foundations of statistics which led him into deep philosophical questions both about statistics and knowledge in general.
- Savage's book The Foundations of Statistics (1954) is perhaps his greatest achievement.
- The Foundations of Statistics sets out Savage's ideas on Bayesian statistics and, in particular, explains his theory of subjective and personal probability.
- This attitude, no doubt sharpened by personal difficulties and by the mordant rhetoric of some anti-Bayesians, exacerbated relationships between Jimmie Savage and many old professional friends.
- Savage left Chicago in 1960 and took up a professorship at the University of Michigan.
- An important work by Savage, published in 1965 after he took up the chair at Yale, is How to gamble if you must : Inequalities for stochastic processes, written jointly with Lester Dubins.
- Other articles written by Savage relate to statistical inference, in particular the Bayesian approach.
- Sadly, Savage only had seven years at Yale before he died at the early age of fifty-three.
- The agreeable professional circumstances during the seven Yale years, and above all his great happiness with Jean, combined to make the last period of Savage's life personally the happiest.
- He has been honoured with the establishment in 1977 of the Savage Award made each year to two outstanding doctoral dissertations in Bayesian econometrics and statistics.
Born 20 November 1917, Detroit, Michigan, USA. Died 1 November 1971, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
View full biography at MacTutor
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Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive