Noted Indian-American statistician Calyampudi Radhakrishna Rao passes away at 102

This year, he was awarded the International Prize in Statistics, which is considered the equivalent of the Nobel Prize in Statistics.

BySNV Sudhir

Published Aug 24, 2023 | 8:00 AM Updated Aug 24, 2023 | 8:00 AM

File photo of CR Rao.

Noted Indian-American statistician Calyampudi Radhakrishna Rao, fondly called CR Rao, passed away in the US on Wednesday, 23 August.

He was 102, and would have turned 103 next month.

He was born on 10 September, 1920, into a Telugu family in Hadagali, in what is now the Ballari district of Karnataka, which was then a part of the composite Madras state.

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A glorious career

He pursued his education in various places in Andhra Pradesh, including Gudur, Nuzividu, and Nandigama.

He completed his MSc in Mathematics from the Andhra University, and later obtained an MA in Statistics from Calcutta University.

The Union government honoured him with the Padma Bhushan — the country’s third-highest civilian award — in 1968 and the Padma Vibhushan — the second-highest — in 2001, as well as the NS Bhatnagar Award.

In 2002, he was awarded the National Medal of Science, the highest scientific honour in the United States, by then-President George Bush.

This year, he was awarded the International Prize in Statistics, which is considered the equivalent of the Nobel Prize in Statistics.

He also held a PhD from Cambridge University (1948). In 1965, Cambridge awarded him the higher doctorate degree, ScD. King’s College also gave him the rare honour of lifetime fellow.

Rao held 39 honorary doctorates from universities — including the University of Buffalo (UB) in New York — across 19 countries on six continents.

Rao, after attending a one-year programme at the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), spent 40 years of his professional career there.

In 1979, he took mandatory retirement from ISI and moved to the United States, where he held teaching positions at the University of Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania State University.

He joined UB in 2010 as a research professor in the Department of Biostatistics in the School of Public Health and Health Professions.

Rao authored 476 research papers — 201 between 1940 and 1980 in India, and 275 between 1980 and 2010 in the United States. He has written 15 books, including leading textbooks in the field.

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Condolences

Tributes poured in from all parts of the world over the passing of Rao.

His family includes his daughter Tejaswani Rao; son Veerendra, an electrical engineer and computer scientist; daughter-in-law Malini, a speech pathologist; grandchildren, Amar and Rohith; and granddaughter-in-law Mitra.