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David Blackwell, Mathematician, Author and Game Theorist (1919)

July 30, 2011 Leave a comment

David Harold Blackwell (April 24, 1919–July 8, 2010), a mathematician, author and game theorist, entered the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign at age 16 and was awarded a Ph.D. in Mathematics at age 22.

Also of note:

  • Calyampudi Radhakrishna Rao and David Blackwell formulated what has come to be known as the Rao–Blackwell Theorem in Statistics
  • in 1965, he was the first African-American inducted into the National Academy of Sciences, an honor society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research for the furtherance of science and technology for humanity
  • he was the first black tenured faculty member at University of California, Berkeley
  • he authored the textbook Basic Statistics, which was published in 1969
  • he was awarded the John von Neumann Theory Prize in 1979
  • in 2002, the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley, California, and Cornell University established the Blackwell-Tapia Award in honor of David Blackwell and Richard A. Tapia, distinguished mathematical scientists who have been inspirations to more than a generation of African-American and Hispanic-American students and professionals in the mathematical sciences1
  • Lastly, the following quote has been attributed to David Blackwell:

I’ve worked in so many areas—I’m sort of a dilettante. Basically, I’m not interested in doing research and I never have been. I’m interested in understanding, which is quite a different thing. And often to understand something you have to work it out yourself because no one else has done it.2

External Links:

  1. David Blackwell (Bellevue College)
  2. Arlie Petters receives first Blackwell-Tapia Prize

Quoted References:

  1. Who Are The Greatest Black Mathematicians?
  2. David Blackwell @ Wikipedia

Further References:

  1. Rao-Blackwell Theorem @ Scholarpedia
  2. National Academy of Sciences:  About the NAS
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