**Samuel Wilks** was an American mathematician who worked in mathematical statistics.

- Although Chance C Wilks trained as a banker and spent a few years in banking, he decided to move to farming and operated a 250 acre farm near Little Elm in Texas.
- Since both Sam and Syrrel published under the name "S S Wilks" there is sometimes confusion between the two.
- After studying at Little Elm School, Wilks attended high school in Denton.
- In his final year at the high school, Wilks would miss lessons so that he could take a mathematics course at North Texas State Teachers College.
- During session 1926-27 Wilks taught manual training and mathematics at a school in Austin, Texas and at the same time he began to study mathematics at the University of Texas, taking graduate level courses.
- Wilks found topology a fascinating subject and he loved Moore's lectures on the topic.
- However, Moore's attitude to applications of mathematics, which he likened to washing dishes, made Wilks look for other topics on which to undertake research.
- In 1928 Wilks received an M.A. in mathematics but he had already started teaching at the university, in fact from 1927 until 1929 he was an instructor in mathematics.
- Strongly encouraged by Dodd, Wilks applied for a fellowship to study mathematical statistics at the University of Iowa.
- After receiving his doctorate in June 1931 for his thesis On the distributions of statistics in samples from a normal population of two variables with matched sampling of one variable, which studied the small sample theory of 'matched' groups in educational psychology, Wilks continued research at Columbia University in session 1931-32.
- The Wilks and the Orr families had been close friends for many years, and Sam Wilks and Gena Orr had been pupils at the same high school in Denton.
- In 1932 Wilks received a two-year appointment as a National Research Council International Research Fellow and went to England where he spent the first of these years in Karl Pearson's department in University College, London.
- Wilks completed work on several papers which appeared in print soon after he submitted them: Moments and distributions of estimates of population parameters from fragmentary samples (1932); On the sampling distribution of the multiple correlation coefficient (1932); The standard error of a tetrad in samples from a normal population of independent variables (1932); and Certain generalizations in the analysis of variance (1932).
- Following his two-year stay in England, Wilks was appointed instructor of mathematics at Princeton in 1933.
- Wilks had written to many American Universities while in England but all had replied that no position was available.
- However, Luther Eisenhart, Head of Mathematics at Princeton, Dod Professor of Mathematics and Dean of the Graduate School, was keen to start up a programme in mathematical statistics and probability theory and was persuaded by Harold Hotelling, who knew Wilks well, to offer Wilks an instructorship in mathematics at Princeton.
- At first Wilks taught the usual mathematics courses that instructors are assigned to teach, namely calculus and analytic geometry.
- Wilks had planned to visit the National University in Santiago for a semester and gives lectures in South America but increasing involvement in war work meant he could not carry out this plan.
- Wilks's work was all on mathematical statistics.
- In 1941 Wilks developed his theory of 'tolerance limits'.
- The annual Wilks Memorial Award (consisting of a medal, a citation and a cash honorarium) was established by the American Statistical Association in 1964.
- Let us end this biography by recording some of the tributes paid to Wilks after his death.

Born 17 June 1906, Little Elm, Texas, USA. Died 7 March 1964, Princeton, New Jersey, USA.

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Architecture, Origin Usa, Statistics

**Oâ€™Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F**: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive