June 26, 2021

2021 Gosset Lecture: "The Language of Statistics"

Being awarded the 2021 Gosset Award, I will deliver the ISBIS Gosset lecture at the 63rd ISI World Statistics Congress, titled "The Language of Statistics (and What's Lost in Translation)."

The talk will be virtual, on July 13, 2021 at 10am UK Time/BST (that is 5pm in Taiwan).

The William Sealy Gosset award is presented by ISBIS in recognition of outstanding statistical work that furthers the mission of our society. Awarded to Bill Meeker in 2015, Vijay Nair in 2017, David Banks in 2019, and Galit Shmueli in 2021.


The field of statistics uses “statistical language” for describing phenomena in the observable world. This language includes statistical notation for parameters, sample statistics, random variables and their realizations, as well as functions of these objects such as densities and conditional probabilities. While statistical language has proven powerful for both theory development and practical applications, some phenomena of interest to researchers and practitioners in business, industry, and otherwise, are not easily conveyed using statistical language, thereby creating statistical blind spots. Identifying such “unknown unknowns” can expand statistical research and applications in new domains. I will describe three blind spots encountered when collaborating with management scientists, behavioral scientists, and other research communities. One blind spot relatesto conceptsand constructs—abstractions of interest in many scientific fields. The second relates to analysis goalsand utility, which are key to statistics in practice. The third blind spot concerns causal interventionsand feedback loops, especially in combination with prediction.