Michael Hasofer

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Abraham Michael Hasofer (2 October 1927 - 2010) was an Australian statistician. Professor Hasofer held the position of the Chair of Statistics within the Mathematics Department in the University of New South Wales in Sydney from 1969[1] to 1991. He subsequently held a position at the LaTrobe University in Melbourne. He authored a number of publications in the field of applied mathematics and civil engineering, including his formulation of the Hasofer-Lind Reliability Index.[2][3]


Abraham Hasofer was born in Alexandria, Egypt, on 2 October 1927[4] to an Ashkenazi Jewish family. He migrated to Israel after the state's independence but subsequently migrated to Australia in 1955. In the 1960s, Hasofer joined the Chabad Hasidic movement.[5]

Education and career[edit]

In 1948, Hasofer earned a Bachelors in Electrical Engineering from the University of Alexandria in Egypt. In 1960 he earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of Tasmania, and in 1964, Hasofer earned his PhD in Mathematical Statistics from the University of Tasmania[6] which was the first PhD degree earned in the university's Department of Mathematics. At the time, Hasofer was a Lecturer in the Department. Hasofer went on to become Professor of Statistics at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).[7] He was chair of statistics within the Mathematics Department for much of his career.

Hasofer received the status of emeritus professor at UNSW.[8] Hasofer died in 2010.[3]


Hasofer's work in mathematics included the formulation of the advanced statistical method known as the Hasofer-Lind Reliability Index which is recognized as an important step towards the development of contemporary methods to effectively and accurately estimate structural safety.[9] The Hasofer-Lind Reliability Index is more often called the first-order reliability method (FORM)[10] which Hasofer successfully applied as a method to resolving structural problems.[11] Alternatively, it is referred to as the first order second-moment reliability index.[12]

Hasofer's research has been used in the field of fMRI research.[13]

In the Jewish community[edit]

In the Australian Jewish community, Hasofer was the founding president of the Australian chapter of the Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists (AOJS).[2][14][15]

Hasofer supported Dr Lee Spetner's stance on Neo-Darwinism which questioned the plausibility of the evolutionary theory of the appearance of beneficial mutations. Spetner's calculations of the probability of beneficial mutations led him to conclude that is unreasonable to assume that beneficial mutations can be produced even in a generous allocation of geological time.[16][6]

In the 1990s, Hasofer rejected the validity of Bible codes which he viewed as statistically unfounded.[17][18][19]

While teaching at the Australian National University in Canberra, Hasofer researched notions of probability and random mechanisms discussed in Talmudic literature. According to Hasofer, the attitude of Ancient Israel toward chance mechanism was diametrically opposed to that of neighboring nations. Dice had been used for gambling as well as for divination in Greek and Roman temples, while Jews were forbidden and sanctioned for use of dice. Lots were used by Jews to settle disputes, as a fair method to allocate duties among contenders, among other uses.[20][21][22][23] This subject was further researched by Nahum Rabinovitch who explored Talmudic probabilistic notions and chance mechanisms.[24]



  • Hasofer, Abraham Michael, Vaughan Rodney Beck, and I. D. Bennetts. Risk Analysis in Building Fire Safety Engineering. Routledge, 2006.
  • Adler, Robert J., and Abraham Michael Hasofer. The Geometry of Random Fields. (1981).

Selected articles[edit]

  • Hasofer, A. M. "On the single-server queue with non-homogeneous Poisson input and general service time." Journal of Applied Probability 1, no. 2 (1964): 369-384.
  • Hasofer, Abraham M. "Studies in the history of probability and statistics. XVI. Random mechanisms in Talmudic literature." Biometrika (1967): 316-321.
  • Hasofer, A. M. "On the derivative and the upcrossings of the Rayleigh process." Australian Journal of Statistics 12, no. 3 (1970): 150-151.
  • Hasofer, A. M. "Design for infrequent overloads." Earthquake Engineering & Structural Dynamics 2, no. 4 (1973): 387-388.
  • Hasofer, Abraham M., and Niels C. Lind. "Exact and invariant second-moment code format." Journal of the Engineering Mechanics division 100, no. 1 (1974): 111-121.
  • Adler, Robert J., and A. M. Hasofer. "Level crossings for random fields." The Annals of Probability 4, no. 1 (1976): 1-12.
  • Hasofer, A. M. "Upcrossings of random fields." Advances in Applied Probability 10 (1978): 14-21.
  • Ditlevsen, O., P. Bjerager, R. Olesen, and A. M. Hasofer. "Directional simulation in Gaussian processes." Probabilistic Engineering Mechanics 3, no. 4 (1988): 207-217.
  • Hasofer, Abraham M., and Z. Wang. "A test for extreme value domain of attraction." Journal of the American Statistical Association 87, no. 417 (1992): 171-177.
  • Hasofer, Abraham Michael, and Isabelle Thomas. "Analysis of fatalities and injuries in building fire statistics." Fire Safety Journal 41, no. 1 (2006): 2-14.


  1. ^ "A Brief History of the Department of Statistics, UNSW" (PDF). University of New South Wales.
  2. ^ a b "Avraham M. Hasofer - המרכז האקדמי לב". www.jct.ac.il.
  3. ^ a b "Prof. R' Avraham Michoel HaSofer, OB"M - Shturem.org Taking The World By Storm". www.shturem.org.
  4. ^ Elishakoff, Isaac. Safety Factors and Reliability: Friends or Foes? Springer Science & Business Media, 2012.
  5. ^ "Yohrtzeit of R' Avrohom Michoel Hasofer OB"M - Shturem.org Taking The World By Storm". www.shturem.org.
  6. ^ a b Hasofer, A.M. "A Statistician Looks at Neo-Darwinism." B'Or Ha'Torah Vol. 3. (1983): 13-21.
  7. ^ R Lidl and D Elliott. "Mathematics for 2015". Voices of a University: Celebrating 125 years at the University of Tasmania (PDF). University of Tasmania.
  8. ^ "List of former Professors and senior officers - UNSW Sydney". www.unsw.edu.au.
  9. ^ Dudzik, A., and U. Radoń. "The reliability assessment for steel industrial building." Advances in Mechanics: Theorectical, Computational and Interdisciplinary Issues (2016): 163-166.
  10. ^ Huang, Jinsong, and D. V. Griffiths. "Observations on FORM in a simple geomechanics example." Structural Safety 33, no. 1 (2011): 115-119.
  11. ^ Choi, Chan Kyu, and Hong Hee Yoo. "Uncertainty analysis of nonlinear systems employing the first-order reliability method." Journal of Mechanical Science and Technology 26, no. 1 (2012): 39-44.
  12. ^ Reis, Maria Teresa Leal Gonsalves Veloso. "Probabilistic assessment of the safety of coastal structures." PhD diss., University of Liverpool, 1998.
  13. ^ Worsley, Keith J. "Estimating the number of peaks in a random field using the Hadwiger characteristic of excursion sets, with applications to medical images." The Annals of Statistics 23, no. 2 (1995): 640-669.
  14. ^ Eidelberg, P. "Codes of the Torah: In the defense of seriousness." B'Or Ha'Torah. Volume 9. 1995.
  15. ^ BDD, Bekhol Derakhekha Daehu: Journal of Torah and Scholarship. Issues 14-17. 2004.
  16. ^ Hasofer, A. M. "A simplified treatment of Spetner's natural selection model." Journal of Theoretical Biology 11, no. 2 (1966): 338-342.
  17. ^ Hasofer, A. M. (1993) Codes in the Torah: A Rejoinder. B'Or Ha'Torah, 8E, 121-131.
  18. ^ A. M. Hasofer (1997). "Torah Codes: Reality or illusion".
  19. ^ Hasofer, A. Michael. "A statistical critique of the Witztum et al. paper." (1998).
  20. ^ Hasofer, Abraham M. "Studies in the history of probability and statistics. XVI. Random mechanisms in talmudic literature." Biometrika (1967): 316-321.
  21. ^ A. M. Hasofer, “Some aspects of Talmudic probabilistic thought,” Proceedings of the Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists 2 (1969): 63–80.
  22. ^ Sheynin, Oscar. "Stochastic Thinking in the Bible and the Talmud." Annals of Science 55, no. 2 (1998): 185-198.
  23. ^ McDonald, James B. "Statistical Distributions: How Deviant Can They Be?." Brigham Young University Studies 28, no. 1 (1988): 83-121.
  24. ^ Rabinovitch, Nachum L. "Studies in the History of Probability and Statistics. XXII: Probability in the Talmud." Biometrika 56, no. 2 (1969): 437-441.