Statistician Stephen Stigler elected to Belgian royal academy of sciences

The Academie Royale des Sciences, des Letters and des Beaux-Arts de Belgique has elected University of Chicago statistician Stephen Stigler to its Classe des Sciences.

The Classe des Sciences has 50 members who are Belgian scientists and 50 foreign members, including Stigler, the Ernest DeWitt Burton Distinguished Service Professor in Statistics. The Academie Royale was founded in 1772 by Maria Theresa, archduchess of Austria, while the territory that would become Belgium was under her rule.

"My work has the connection that an important figure in the Academie was a major focus of some of my historical work on the history of statistics-Adolphe Quetelet," Stigler said.

Stigler has written about Quetelet (1796-1874), in his History of Statistics: The Measurement of Uncertainty Before 1900 (1986), and other publications. Quetelet's works took the first steps toward the application of probability to the measurement of uncertainty in the social sciences, according to Stigler.

"With his election in 1820 to the Acad'emie Royale des Sciences at Belles-Lettres de Bruxelles, he began a half-century of domination of Belgian science," Stigler wrote in History of Statistics. "Quetelet's principal career within Belgium was as an astronomer and a meteorologist at the Royal Observatory in Brussels, but his international reputation was as a statistician and a sociologist."