Nils Lid Hjort

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Nils Lid Hjort (born 12 January 1953) is a Norwegian statistician, and has been a professor of mathematical statistics at the University of Oslo since 1991. Hjort's research themes are unusually varied, with particularly noteworthy contributions in the fields of Bayesian probability (Beta processes for use in non- and semi-parametric models, particularly within survival analysis and event history analysis, but also with links to Indian buffet processes in machine learning), density estimation and nonparametric regression (local likelihood methodology), and model selection (focused information criteria and model averaging). An article on frequentist model averaging, with co-author Gerda Claeskens, was selected as Fast Breaking Paper in the field of mathematics by the Essential Science Indicators in 2005. He has also worked with spatial statistics, statistics of remote sensing, pattern recognition, etc.

Hjort is a core member of the Centre of Excellence Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis, on the scientific advisory board of the Centre for Innovation Statistics for Innovation, and also involved with the Centre for Biostatistical Modelling in the Medical Sciences, all within the University of Oslo. Hjort is an elected member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters since 1999.

Hjort has also served on the editorial boards on various journals dedicated to the methodology and application of statistical research, including the Scandinavian Journal of Statistics, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series B, and the Annals of Statistics, and has been on the programme committees of numerous international conferences.

On the applied side, Hjort demonstrated in 1994 that there is a small but Olympically significant difference between inner-lane and outer-lane starts for 500 m speedskating races, after a systematic analysis of world sprint championships data, implying that the Olympic 500 m event has been unfair since 1924. As a result of Hjort's work and initiative, the International Skating Union and the International Olympic Committee changed the rules; since Nagano 1998 onwards, the sprint skaters race the 500 m twice, with one start in inner lane and one start in the outer lane. He is also a regular contributor to the Speedskating World magazine. Other applied work has involved analysis of literary texts. In the famous case of potential plagiarism where Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and others accused Mikhail Sholokhov of not being the rightful author of And Quiet Flows the Don, Hjort's analysis gives full support to Sholokhov.

Hjort's other interests include Disney comics (where he has given public lectures and written scholarly articles for various publishers), chamber music and choir singing (taking part in more than ten CD recordings with Grex Vocalis), gøbbing (exchanging ideas with members of a think tank) and cross-country skiing. He has edited two books with the works of notable Disney comics artist Don Rosa.

Nils Lid Hjort is one of five sons of Supreme Court lawyer Johan Hjort and Helga Lid, and his grandfathers were Supreme Court lawyer Johan Bernhard Hjort and ethnologist Nils Lid. Among his brothers is typographer, designer and rock music historian Christopher Hjort, and his cousins include writer and publisher Anders Heger, violinist and conductor Gottfried von der Goltz, and cellist Kristin von der Goltz.

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