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History

Bell Laboratories has a long history in statistics, dating back to W.Shewhart's invention of control charts in 1924 and Dodge and Romig's development of double-sampling inspection plans in the 1930's. Shewhart also contributed to the area that is now called robust statistics. After World War II, John Tukey embarked on his dual career at AT&T Bell Labs and Princeton University, carrying out his pioneering work in spectrum analysis, the Fast Fourier Transform, multiple comparisons, exploratory data analysis, and a host of other topics in statistics. In memory of John Tukey's contributions to Bell Labs and to the statistics profession generally, we have created a memorial page and invite friends, colleagues and others to contribute their memories.

The first person hired as a statistical researcher (in 1952) was M.E.Terry. Statistics research at Bell Labs grew substantially between 1959 and 1969. Among the early recruits were R.Gnanadesikan, J.Kruskal, C.L.Mallows and M.B.Wilk.

With the break-up of the Bell System in 1984, about 1/3 of the group went to Bellcore. Statistics research grew back to about its previous size a few years later. In 1996, with the break-up of AT&T, Bell Laboratories became the research and development arm of Lucent Technologies. About 1/3 of the statistics research group formed a statistics group at the new AT&T Laboratories. In 2005, the statistics group was combined with researchers in pattern recognition and machine learning into a single entity, covering the diverse area about inference with data for the new company Alcatel-Lucent.

Inventions from Bell Labs in pattern recognition and machine learning include several of the most popular supervised learning methodologies: support vector machines, random decision forests, and boosting in ensemble learning. These inventions were driven by severe challenges in practical applications as well as by high expectations on scholarly pursuits. Such challenges and expectations continue to drive our work to this day.

More about our works in statistics are described in the following archives.

The S/Splus/R heritage.

John Tukey memorial page.

Forty Years of Statistical Computing and Beyond:
A Workshop in Honor of John M. Chambers.


Former projects in statistics.