Statistics pioneer CR Rao passes away

The legendary statistician is known as the ‘father’ of Indian statistical education.

Mehak Luthra

C R Rao / Image - University of Hyderabad

C Radhakrishna Rao, a preeminent mathematician and statistician from India, passed away in the United States in the early hours of August 23, just a couple of weeks before his 103rd birthday. Referred to as Dr. Rao among his peers and students, he held the position of director at the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) and gained significant attention earlier this year. 

Rao was honoured with the International Prize in Statistics, a recognition that is often likened to the Nobel Prize and is held in high esteem by many. In addition to his notable accomplishments, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan awards, India's second-highest and highest civilian honors, in 1968 and 2001, respectively, for his outstanding contributions. 

Following his retirement from the ISI, Rao relocated to the United States. In 1982, he founded the Center of Multivariate Analysis at the University of Pittsburgh. Subsequently, he became a member of the faculty at Pennsylvania State University in 1988. 

A significant milestone occurred in 2007 when the University of Hyderabad established the C R Rao Advanced Institute of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science in his honour. In 2010, Rao transitioned to the University at Buffalo, Amherst. He maintained his scholarly pursuits impressively well into his advanced years, even publishing his final scientific work at the age of 100.

Rao's impact on the field of statistics is extensive and diverse. His groundbreaking research introduced fundamental concepts in statistical analysis that remain integral to contemporary practices and teachings. He played a pivotal role in the establishment of statistical offices at both state and district levels throughout India, thereby fostering a more profound comprehension of the nation's economy.


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