George Box: His interface with industry and its impact


  • William J. Hill

    Corresponding author
    1. United Way of Buffalo and Erie County (Six Sigma Volunteer), New York
    • Correspondence to: William J. Hill, 5564 Oak Dale Lane, Buffalo, New York 14221-2849, United States.


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This article discusses George Box's impact on industry and his desire for his students to listen to industry needs for applied statistics problem-solving opportunities. Three examples are given including lesser known but nonetheless important ones on how Box's research and outreach impacted industry and attracted industrial support. These include (i) the role of his time series research with Gwilym Jenkins and George Tiao on better understanding environmental problems of air pollution, stratospheric ozone depletion and climate change; (ii) the enabling infrastructure that he set up at the University of Wisconsin including the Department of Statistics and, with Bill Hunter, the Center for Quality and Productivity Improvement; and (iii) his supervision of students, many of whom went into industry positions or interfaced closely with industry from their academic positions on deploying applied statistics in problem-solving. In his own words in his recent autobiography ‘An Accidental Statistician’, he said ‘I wanted them (meaning his students) to take their ideas out of the classroom, to discuss and to argue them, and to meet industrial statisticians who could explain how they solved problems’. He had great respect for industry professionals and their role in helping him and others in the development of new applied statistical methods for problem-solving. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.