Arthur Cohen, a brilliant applied and mathematical statistician and a wonderful colleague and leader, passed away on July 26, 2021.
Arthur spent his professional career at Rutgers, from 1963 until he traded his title of Distinguished Professor for Emeritus in 2017. A world-renowned leader in decision theory, he was known in the research world for blending dynamic applied statistical expertise with rigorous and creative mathematical skills. Among his colleagues he was also revered for his integrity, geniality, incisiveness, and an unending passion for statistics.
Arthur was born in 1933 and later attended Brooklyn College, where he was captain of the basketball team. One professor there suggested that Arthur might try graduate school in statistics at Columbia University, to which he could commute from home. That bit of serendipity launched his career. Arthur interrupted his graduate studies to spend two years with the Epidemiology Intelligence Service, in what was then the Communicable Disease Center (CDC), as a “disease detective.” After returning to Columbia, Arthur wrote a dissertation under Ted Anderson involving admissible estimators, a major topic over his career.
Soon after he joined Rutgers, Arthur became department chair. With a long reign as chair followed by other essential roles, he was instrumental in building up Statistics into the leading department it is today, although he once claimed that one thing he loved about Rutgers was that he could pretend the administration didn’t exist and the administration thought he didn’t exist. Arthur was known to be an inspiring and caring teacher. He supervised several students, who themselves are now leaders. In addition to his service at Rutgers, Arthur also provided outstanding service to the statistics profession, including serving as Editor of the Annals of Statistics, Co-Editor of the Journal of Multivariate Analysis, and Associate Editor of several other journals.
Arthur developed wide ranging and fundamental results in decision theory, admissibility, Bayes procedures, sequential tests, order restricted inference, and multiple testing. One of his long-time collaborators Harold Sackrowitz said “His research was always guided by relevance to the area. He preceded Google as a search engine for his breadth of knowledge of people and work across Statistics.” Among other distinctions, Arthur was honored as a Fellow of the IMS, ASA, and the ISI.
Arthur will be greatly missed for his enormous intellect, kindness, and optimism. He leaves behind his loving wife Anita of 64 years, his devoted children Richmond and Elizabeth, and his cherished grandchildren Genevieve and Troy Arthur.
The Department of Statistics at Rutgers University will establish an Arthur Cohen Lecture as one of the major annual events of the department. The Rutgers flag will fly at half-mast on November 5, 2021, in his memory. A virtual memorial gathering will be held on September 17, 2021, and a celebratory research conference with colleagues, students and family members will be held in Arthur’s honor at Rutgers University on January 14, 2022. [For more information on these, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org].
Written respectfully by Arthur’s colleagues at the Rutgers Statistics Department