John Wilder Tukey (; June 16, 1915 – July 26, 2000) was an American

mathematician
A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics in their work, typically to solve mathematical problems.
Mathematicians are concerned with numbers, data, quantity, structure, space, models, and change.
History
...

and statistician, best known for the development of the fast Fourier Transform (FFT) algorithm and box plot
In descriptive statistics, a box plot or boxplot is a method for graphically demonstrating the locality, spread and skewness groups of numerical data through their quartiles. In addition to the box on a box plot, there can be lines (which are ca ...

. The Tukey range test, the Tukey lambda distribution, the Tukey test of additivity, and the Teichmüller–Tukey lemma all bear his name. He is also credited with coining the term 'bit
The bit is the most basic unit of information in computing and digital communications. The name is a portmanteau of binary digit. The bit represents a logical state with one of two possible values. These values are most commonly represente ...

' and the first published use of the word 'software
Software is a set of computer programs and associated documentation and data. This is in contrast to hardware, from which the system is built and which actually performs the work.
At the lowest programming level, executable code consists ...

'.
Biography

Tukey was born inNew Bedford, Massachusetts
New Bedford (Massachusett: ) is a city in Bristol County, Massachusetts. It is located on the Acushnet River in what is known as the South Coast region. Up through the 17th century, the area was the territory of the Wampanoag Native America ...

in 1915, to a Latin teacher father and a private tutor. He was mainly taught by his mother and attended regular classes only for certain subjects like French. Tukey obtained a BA in 1936 and MSc in 1937 in chemistry, from Brown University
Brown University is a private research university in Providence, Rhode Island. Brown is the seventh-oldest institution of higher education in the United States, founded in 1764 as the College in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Provide ...

, before moving to Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university in Princeton, New Jersey. Founded in 1746 in Elizabeth as the College of New Jersey, Princeton is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the ...

, where in 1939 he received a PhD PHD or PhD may refer to:
* Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), an academic qualification
Entertainment
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* Ph.D. (band), a 1980s British group
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in mathematics
Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented in modern mathematics ...

after completing a doctoral dissertation titled "On denumerability in topology
In mathematics, topology (from the Greek words , and ) is concerned with the properties of a geometric object that are preserved under continuous deformations, such as stretching, twisting, crumpling, and bending; that is, without closing ...

".
During World War II
World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great powers—forming two opposing ...

, Tukey worked at the Fire Control Research Office and collaborated with Samuel Wilks and William Cochran. He is claimed to have helped design the U-2 spy plane. After the war, he returned to Princeton, dividing his time between the university and AT&T Bell Laboratories. In 1962, Tukey was elected to the American Philosophical Society
The American Philosophical Society (APS), founded in 1743 in Philadelphia, is a scholarly organization that promotes knowledge in the sciences and humanities through research, professional meetings, publications, library resources, and communit ...

. He became a full professor at 35 and founding chairman of the Princeton statistics department in 1965.
Among many contributions to civil society
Civil society can be understood as the "third sector" of society, distinct from government and business, and including the family and the private sphere.American Statistical Association
The American Statistical Association (ASA) is the main professional organization for statisticians and related professionals in the United States. It was founded in Boston, Massachusetts on November 27, 1839, and is the second oldest continuous ...

that produced a report critiquing the statistical methodology of the Kinsey Report, ''Statistical Problems of the Kinsey Report on Sexual Behavior in the Human Male'', which summarised "While much remains to be done, our overall impression of their work to date is favorable".
From 1960 to 1980, Tukey helped design the NBC television network polls used to predict and analyze elections. He was also a consultant to the Educational Testing Service, the Xerox Corporation, and Merck & Company.
He was awarded the National Medal of Science
The National Medal of Science is an honor bestowed by the President of the United States to individuals in science and engineering who have made important contributions to the advancement of knowledge in the fields of behavioral and social sc ...

by President Nixon in 1973. He was awarded the IEEE Medal of Honor
The IEEE Medal of Honor is the highest recognition of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). It has been awarded since 1917, when its first recipient was Major Edwin H. Armstrong. It is given for an exceptional contributi ...

in 1982 "For his contributions to the spectral analysis of random processes and the fast Fourier transform (FFT) algorithm
In mathematics and computer science, an algorithm () is a finite sequence of rigorous instructions, typically used to solve a class of specific problems or to perform a computation. Algorithms are used as specifications for performing ...

".
Tukey retired in 1985. He died in New Brunswick, New Jersey
New Brunswick is a city in and the seat of government of Middlesex County, in the U.S. state of New Jersey.statistical methods for computers at

Interview of John Tukey about his experience at Princeton

Royal Society obit. by Peter McCullagh

John W. Tukey: His Life and Professional Contributions

published in ''The Annals of Statistics''

John Wilder Tukey (1915–2000)

in ''

Memories of John Tukey

by Mary Bittrich *

"Remembering John W. Tukey"

special issue of '' Statistical Science'' * {{DEFAULTSORT:Tukey, John Wilder 1915 births 2000 deaths People from Massachusetts National Medal of Science laureates Presidents of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics Fellows of the American Statistical Association IEEE Medal of Honor recipients American statisticians Survey methodologists Exploratory data analysis Princeton University faculty Princeton University alumni Brown University alumni Burials at Princeton Cemetery Foreign Members of the Royal Society Members of the United States National Academy of Sciences 20th-century American mathematicians

Bell Labs
Nokia Bell Labs, originally named Bell Telephone Laboratories (1925–1984),
then AT&T Bell Laboratories (1984–1996)
and Bell Labs Innovations (1996–2007),
is an American industrial research and scientific development company owned by mult ...

where he invented the term "bit" in 1947.
His statistical interests were many and varied. He is particularly remembered for his development with James Cooley
James William Cooley (1926 – June 29, 2016) was an American mathematician. Cooley received a B.A. degree in 1949 from Manhattan College, Bronx, NY, an M.A. degree in 1951 from Columbia University, New York, NY, and a Ph.D. degree in 1961 in ...

of the Cooley–Tukey FFT algorithm
The Cooley–Tukey algorithm, named after J. W. Cooley and John Tukey, is the most common fast Fourier transform (FFT) algorithm. It re-expresses the discrete Fourier transform (DFT) of an arbitrary composite size N = N_1N_2 in terms of ''N''1 ...

. In 1970, he contributed significantly to what is today known as the jackknife estimation—also termed Quenouille–Tukey jackknife. He introduced the box plot
In descriptive statistics, a box plot or boxplot is a method for graphically demonstrating the locality, spread and skewness groups of numerical data through their quartiles. In addition to the box on a box plot, there can be lines (which are ca ...

in his 1977 book, "Exploratory Data Analysis".
Tukey's range test
Tukey's range test, also known as Tukey's test, Tukey method, Tukey's honest significance test, or Tukey's HSD (honestly significant difference) test, Also occasionally as "honestly," see e.g. is a single-step multiple comparison procedure and ...

, the Tukey lambda distribution, Tukey's test of additivity, Tukey's lemma, and the Tukey window all bear his name. He is also the creator of several little-known methods such as the trimean and median-median line, an easier alternative to linear regression.
In 1974, he developed, with Jerome H. Friedman, the concept of the projection pursuit.
Statistical practice

He also contributed to statistical practice and articulated the important distinction betweenexploratory data analysis
In statistics, exploratory data analysis (EDA) is an approach of analyzing data sets to summarize their main characteristics, often using statistical graphics and other data visualization methods. A statistical model can be used or not, but pri ...

and confirmatory data analysis, believing that much statistical methodology placed too great an emphasis on the latter.
Though he believed in the utility of separating the two types of analysis, he pointed out that sometimes, especially in natural science
Natural science is one of the branches of science concerned with the description, understanding and prediction of natural phenomena, based on empirical evidence from observation and experimentation. Mechanisms such as peer review and repeata ...

, this was problematic and termed such situations uncomfortable science.
A. D. Gordon offered the following summary of Tukey's principles for statistical practice:
Tukey's lectures were described to be unusual. McCullagh described his lecture given in London in 1977:
Coining the term ''bit''

While working withJohn von Neumann
John von Neumann (; hu, Neumann János Lajos, ; December 28, 1903 – February 8, 1957) was a Hungarian-American mathematician, physicist, computer scientist, engineer and polymath. He was regarded as having perhaps the widest cove ...

on early computer designs, Tukey introduced the word "bit
The bit is the most basic unit of information in computing and digital communications. The name is a portmanteau of binary digit. The bit represents a logical state with one of two possible values. These values are most commonly represente ...

" as a portmanteau of "binary digit". The term "bit" was first used in an article by Claude Shannon
Claude Elwood Shannon (April 30, 1916 – February 24, 2001) was an American mathematician, electrical engineer, and cryptography, cryptographer known as a "father of information theory".
As a 21-year-old master's degree student at the Massac ...

in 1948.
See also

*List of pioneers in computer science
This is a list of people who made transformative breakthroughs in the creation, development and imagining of what computers could do.
Pioneers
: ''To arrange the list by date or person (ascending or descending), click that column's small "up-d ...

Publications

* * * * * * * * * * * * ; ''The collected works of John W Tukey'', edited by William S. Cleveland * * * * * * * * ;About John Tukey *Interview of John Tukey about his experience at Princeton

References

External links

Royal Society obit. by Peter McCullagh

John W. Tukey: His Life and Professional Contributions

published in ''The Annals of Statistics''

John Wilder Tukey (1915–2000)

in ''

Notices of the American Mathematical Society
''Notices of the American Mathematical Society'' is the membership journal of the American Mathematical Society (AMS), published monthly except for the combined June/July issue. The first volume appeared in 1953. Each issue of the magazine since ...

''
Memories of John Tukey

by Mary Bittrich *

"Remembering John W. Tukey"

special issue of '' Statistical Science'' * {{DEFAULTSORT:Tukey, John Wilder 1915 births 2000 deaths People from Massachusetts National Medal of Science laureates Presidents of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics Fellows of the American Statistical Association IEEE Medal of Honor recipients American statisticians Survey methodologists Exploratory data analysis Princeton University faculty Princeton University alumni Brown University alumni Burials at Princeton Cemetery Foreign Members of the Royal Society Members of the United States National Academy of Sciences 20th-century American mathematicians