David Cox (statistician)

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David Cox
Nci-vol-8182-300 david cox.jpg
Cox in 1980
Born (1924-07-15) 15 July 1924 (age 97)
Birmingham, England
CitizenshipUnited Kingdom
Alma materSt John's College, Cambridge
University of Leeds
Known forCox proportional hazards model
Cox process
Box-Cox transform
Matrix-exponential distribution
Method of supplementary variables
Stochastic processes
Design of experiments
Analysis of binary data
AwardsKnight Bachelor
Fellow of the Royal Society
Guy Medal (Silver, 1961) (Gold, 1973)
George Box Medal (2005)
Copley medal (2010)
International Prize in Statistics (2016)
BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award (2016)
Scientific career
InstitutionsRoyal Aircraft Establishment
Wool Industries Research Association
University of Cambridge
Birkbeck College, London
Imperial College, London
Nuffield College, Oxford
Doctoral advisorHenry Daniels
Bernard Lewis Welch
Doctoral studentsDavid Hinkley
Peter McCullagh
Basilio de Bragança Pereira
Walter L. Smith
Gauss Moutinho Cordeiro
Valerie Isham
Henry Wynn
Jane Hutton

Sir David Roxbee Cox FRS FBA FRSE (born 15 July 1924) is a prominent British statistician.

Early life and education[edit]

Cox was born in Birmingham. His father was a die sinker and part-owner of a jewellery shop, and they lived near the Jewellery Quarter.[1] The aeronautical engineer Harold Roxbee Cox was a distant cousin.[2] He attended Handsworth Grammar School.[1] Cox studied mathematics at St John's College, Cambridge and obtained his PhD from the University of Leeds in 1949, advised by Henry Daniels and Bernard Welch.[3]


He was employed from 1944 to 1946 at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, from 1946 to 1950 at the Wool Industries Research Association in Leeds,[4] and from 1950 to 1956 worked at the Statistical Laboratory at the University of Cambridge. From 1956 to 1966 he was Reader and then Professor of Statistics at Birkbeck College, London. In 1966, he took up the Chair position in Statistics at Imperial College London where he later became head of the mathematics department. In 1988 he became Warden of Nuffield College and a member of the Department of Statistics at Oxford University. He formally retired from these positions in 1994.[4]

He has made pioneering and important contributions to numerous areas of statistics and applied probability, of which the best known are:

  • Logistic Regression, which is employed when the variable to be predicted is categorical (i.e., can take a limited number of values, e.g., gender, US census race), binary (a special case of categorical with only two values - e.g., success/failure, disease/no disease), or ordinal, where the categories can be ranked (e.g., pain intensity can be absent, mild, moderate, severe, unbearable). Cox's 1958 paper [5] addressed the case of binary logistic regression.
  • The proportional hazards model, which is widely used in the analysis of survival data, was developed by him in 1972.[6] An example is survival times in medical research that can be related to information about the patients such as age, diet or exposure to certain chemical substances.
  • The Cox process was named after him.

Cox has supervised, collaborated with, and encouraged many younger researchers now prominent in statistics. He has served as President of the Bernoulli Society, of the Royal Statistical Society, and of the International Statistical Institute. He is an Honorary Fellow of Nuffield College and St John's College, Cambridge, and is a member of the Department of Statistics at the University of Oxford.

Cox has received numerous awards and honours for his work. He has been awarded the Guy Medals in Silver (1961) and Gold (1973) of the Royal Statistical Society. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1973, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1985[7] and became an Honorary Fellow of the British Academy in 2000. He is a Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences and a foreign member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters. In 1990, he won the Kettering Prize and Gold Medal for Cancer Research for "the development of the Proportional Hazard Regression Model." In 2010 he was awarded the Copley Medal of the Royal Society "for his seminal contributions to the theory and applications of statistics."[8] He is also the first ever recipient of the International Prize in Statistics.[9] In 2013 Cox was elected an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.[10] In 2016, he won the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Basic Sciences category jointly with Bradley Efron, for the development of “pioneering and hugely influential” statistical methods that have proved indispensable for obtaining reliable results in a vast spectrum of disciplines from medicine to astrophysics, genomics or particle physics.

Personal life[edit]

In 1947, Cox married Joyce Drummond. They had four children.[11]


Cox has written or co-authored 300 papers and books. From 1966 to 1991 he was the editor of Biometrika. His books are as follows:

  • Planning of experiments (1958)
  • Queues (Methuen, 1961). With Walter L. Smith
  • Renewal Theory (Methuen, 1962).
  • The theory of stochastic processes (1965). With Hilton David Miller
  • Analysis of binary data (1969). With Joyce Snell
  • Theoretical statistics (1974). With D. V. Hinkley
  • Problems and Solutions in Theoretical Statistics (1978). With D. V. Hinkley
  • Point Processes (Chapman & Hall/CRC, 1980). With Valerie Isham
  • Applied statistics, principles and examples (Chapman & Hall/CRC, 1981). With Joyce Snell
  • Analysis of survival data (Chapman & Hall/CRC, 1984). With David Oakes
  • Asymptotic techniques for use in statistics. (1989) With Ole E. Barndorff-Nielsen
  • Inference and asymptotics (Chapman & Hall/CRC, 1994). With Ole E. Barndorff-Nielsen
  • Multivariate dependencies, models, analysis and interpretation (Chapman & Hall, 1995). With Nanny Wermuth
  • The theory of design of experiments. (Chapman & Hall/CRC, 2000). With Nancy M. Reid.
  • Complex stochastic systems (Chapman & Hall/CRC, 2000). With Ole E. Barndorff-Nielsen and Claudia Klüppelberg
  • Components of variance (Chapman & Hall/CRC, 2003). With P. J. Solomon
  • Principles of Statistical Inference (Cambridge University Press, 2006). ISBN 978-0-521-68567-2
  • Selected Statistical Papers of Sir David Cox 2 Volume Set
  • Principles of Applied Statistics (CUP) With Christl A. Donnelly

He is a named editor of the following books

The following book was published in his honour.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Pioneer detail: David Cox". UK Data Service. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  2. ^ Cox, Harold Roxbee (April 1999). "Myself, when young" (PDF). Aeronautical Journal. 103 (1022): 178–180. doi:10.1017/S0001924000096433.
  3. ^ entry at Mathematics Genealogy Project
  4. ^ a b Gregersen, Erik (13 February 2015). "Sir David Cox, British statistician". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  5. ^ Cox, DR (1958). "The regression analysis of binary sequences (with discussion)". J R Stat Soc B. 20 (2): 215–242. JSTOR 2983890.
  6. ^ Cox, David R (1972). "Regression Models and Life-Tables". Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series B. 34 (2): 187–220. JSTOR 2985181. MR 0341758.
  7. ^ "No. 50221". The London Gazette. 6 August 1985. p. 10815.
  8. ^ "David Cox". The Royal Society. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  9. ^ Talley, Jill (19 October 2016). "International Prize in Statistics Awarded to Sir David Cox for Survival Analysis Model Applied in Medicine, Science, and Engineering" (PDF) (Press release). American Statistical Association. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  10. ^ "Sir David Cox FRS, HonFBA, HonFRSE - The Royal Society of Edinburgh". The Royal Society of Edinburgh. Retrieved 1 February 2018.
  11. ^ Nancy Reid (August 1994). "A Conversation with Sir David Cox". Statistical Science. 9 (3): 439–455. doi:10.1214/ss/1177010394. JSTOR 2246357.

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Michael Brock
Warden of Nuffield College, Oxford
Succeeded by
Sir Anthony Atkinson