Adrian Smith (statistician)

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Adrian Smith
63rd President of the Royal Society
Assumed office
30 November 2020
Preceded byVenki Ramakrishnan
Personal details
Adrian Frederick Melhuish Smith

(1946-09-09) 9 September 1946 (age 77)
Dawlish, Devon, England
Alma materUniversity of Cambridge
University College London
AwardsGuy Medal (Bronze, 1977) (Silver, 1993) (Gold, 2016)
Scientific career
InstitutionsImperial College London
Queen Mary, University of London
Thesis Bayesian inference for the linear model  (1972)
Doctoral advisorDennis Lindley[1]
Doctoral studentsDavid Spiegelhalter
Chris Holmes

Sir Adrian Frederick Melhuish Smith, PRS (born 9 September 1946) is a British statistician who is chief executive of the Alan Turing Institute and president of the Royal Society.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Smith was born on 9 September 1946 in Dawlish. He was educated at Selwyn College, Cambridge, and University College London, where his PhD supervisor was Dennis Lindley.


From 1977 until 1990, he was professor of statistics and head of department of mathematics at the University of Nottingham. He was subsequently at Imperial College, London, where he was head of the mathematics department. Smith is a former deputy vice-chancellor of the University of London and became vice-chancellor of the university on 1 September 2012.[3] He stood down from the role in August 2018 to become the director of the Alan Turing Institute.[4][5]

Smith is a member of the governing body of the London Business School. He served on the Advisory Council for the Office for National Statistics from 1996 to 1998, was statistical advisor to the Nuclear Waste Inspectorate from 1991 to 1998 and was advisor on Operational Analysis to the Ministry of Defence from 1982 to 1987.

He is a former president of the Royal Statistical Society. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2001. His FRS citation included "his diverse contributions to Bayesian statistics. His monographs are the most comprehensive available and his work has had a major impact on the development of monitoring tools for clinicians."

In statistical theory, Smith is a proponent of Bayesian statistics and evidence-based practice—a general extension of evidence-based medicine into all areas of public policy. With Antonio Machi, he translated Bruno de Finetti's Theory of Probability into English. He wrote an influential paper in 1990 along with Alan E. Gelfand, which drew attention to the significance of the Gibbs sampler technique for Bayesian numerical integration problems. He was also co-author of the seminal paper on the particle filter (Gordon, Salmond and Smith, 1993).

In mathematics and statistics education, Smith led the team which produced the Smith Report on secondary mathematics education in the United Kingdom.

In April 2008, Smith was appointed as director general of science and research at the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (since merged with other departments to form the UK's BEIS). He took up his post in September 2008. His annual remuneration for this role is £160,000.[6].

Smith was knighted in the 2011 New Year Honours.[7] In 2023 he was a guest on The Life Scientific on BBC Radio 4.[8]

Honorary doctorates[edit]

In 2011, Smith was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Plymouth University, in 2015, an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Ohio State University.[9] and in 2020 an Honorary Doctorate Honoris Causa from Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. He also was awarded Honorary Doctorates from City University, University of Loughborough, Queen Mary and University of London.


  • Gelfand, A. E.; Smith, A. F. M. (1990). "Sampling-Based Approaches to Calculating Marginal Densities". Journal of the American Statistical Association. 85 (410): 398–409. doi:10.2307/2289776. JSTOR 2289776.
  • Gordon, N.J.; Salmond, D.J.; Smith, A.F.M. (1993). "Novel approach to nonlinear/non-Gaussian Bayesian state estimation". IEE Proceedings F - Radar and Signal Processing. 140 (2). Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET): 107. doi:10.1049/ip-f-2.1993.0015. ISSN 0956-375X.
  • Smith, Adrian (2004). Making Mathematics Count: The Report of Professor Adrian Smith's Inquiry into Post-14 Mathematics Education. London, England: The Stationery Office.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Adrian Smith at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  2. ^ "Sir Adrian Smith becomes President of the Royal Society".
  3. ^ "New Vice-Chancellor of the University of London". IQuad. Royal Holloway, University of London. 1 June 2012. Retrieved 31 July 2012.
  4. ^ "University of London appoints interim Vice-Chancellor". University of London. 8 June 2018. Retrieved 24 December 2018.
  5. ^ "Professor Sir Adrian Smith to stand down as Vice-Chancellor". University of London. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  6. ^ "Top civil servant salary list published". Directgov. 1 June 2010. Archived from the original on 11 June 2011. Retrieved 14 June 2010.
  7. ^ "No. 59647". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2010. p. 1.
  8. ^ "The power of Bayesian statistics". Retrieved 7 February 2023.
  9. ^ "Honorary Degree Recipients Archives | Ohio State".

External links[edit]

Business positions
Preceded by Director and CEO of Alan Turing Institute
Academic offices
Preceded by 49th Vice-Chancellor of the University of London
Succeeded by
New title 1st Principal of Queen Mary University of London
Succeeded by
Philip Ogden (acting)
Simon Gaskell
Government offices
Preceded by
Director General for Knowledge and Innovation of Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Succeeded by
Professional and academic associations
Preceded by 63rd President of the Royal Society