WSS NEWS--News about activities of the Washington Statistical Society - a Chapter of the American Statistical Association

December 1996


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Please come join your friends and colleagues for a celebration of the holiday season with a special tribute to the 100th anniversary of WSS. The 1996 WSS Holiday Party and Special 100th Anniversary Celebration will be held Tuesday, December 17, at The Washington Court Hotel. See the attached flyer for details and registration information. Hope to see you there!


A Special WSS Session was held on October 15 to honor the many innovative contributions of Monroe Sirken to U.S. Federal Statistics. Dr. Sirken has long directed the statistical research and survey methods programs of the National Center for Health Statistics.

For his continuing contributions, Monroe received the second annual Roger Herriot Award. The Award is sponsored by the Washington Statistical Society, the Government Statistics Section, and the Social Statistics Section of the American Statistical Association. Dan Kasprzyk from the National Center for Education Statistics made the presentation.

As part of the award ceremony, four papers were given on areas that Monroe is working in: Cognitive Methods in Surveys (Betsy Martin from the Census Bureau), Integrating Surveys (Jim Massey from Mathematica), Network Sampling (Barry Graubard from the National Cancer Institute), and The Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology (Wray Smith from Synectics).

The session was well attended with many of Monroe's friends and colleagues present -- including Joe Waksberg, last year's Herriot Award Recipient. A reception was held afterwards to celebrate the occasion.


Nominations are invited for the annual Julius Shiskin Award for Economic Statistics. The award, established in 1979 by the Washington Statistical Society and co-sponsored by the National Association of Business Economists, is given in recognition of unusually original and important contributions in the development of economic statistics or in the use of economic statistics in interpreting the economy. The contributions could be in statistical research, in the development of statistical tools, in the application of computer techniques, in the use of economic statistical programs, in the management of statistical programs, or in developing public understanding of measurement issues, to all of which Mr. Shiskin contributed. Either individuals or groups in the public or private sector can be nominated.

The award will be presented with an honorarium of $750 at the Washington Statistical Society Annual Dinner in June 1997. The winner also receives a plaque and recognition by the National Association of Business Economists.

David F. Findley of the Bureau of the Census won the 1996 Shiskin Award for outstanding leadership in improving seasonal adjustment methodology for the economic time series.

Previous winners include: Fritz Scheuren for breaking new ground in the construction of micro economic files, as well as the statistical uses of administrative data for economic research; Richard D. Allen for his contributions to the application of statistics to agricultural economics; Joel Popkin for his contributions to the development of price indexes and other gauges of inflationary pressures; Barbara Bailar for her contributions to modernizing the Census Bureau's statistical programs; Allen H. Young for his leadership in forging statistical tools that contribute substantially to the ability to analyze the U.S. economy; and the late Stephen Taylor for his work in developing the U.S. Flow of Funds Accounts.

A nomination form may be obtained by writing to the Julius Shiskin Award Committee, American Statistical Association, 1429 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22314-3402. Completed nominations must be received by April 1, 1997.

For further information, contact Dr. Howard Hogan, Julius Shiskin Award Committee Secretary, Services Division, U.S. Bureau of the Census, Room 2641-3, Washington, DC 20233-6500, call at (301) 457-2665, or e-mail at

SIGSTAT Meetings

SIGSTAT is the Special Interest Group in Statistics for the Capital PC User Group (CPCUG) and WORMSC, Washington Operations Research and Management Science Council. All meetings are from 12:30 - 1:30 in Room 1208, 1301 New York Ave, NW. First-time attendees should contact Charlie Hallahan at 202-501-6928 or Further information is at http://www.ers.usda.govsigstat or the Members/Sigs page of

12/11/96 Neural Connections from SPSS -

Neural Connections from SPSS is a Windows program to estimate neural networks. The interface is quite intuitive as networks are constructed by dragging icons to the workspace. The package supports radial basis functions, multilayer perceptrons and Kohonen networks. The demostration will include a simple example to illustrate the concepts of neural networks.


We're using our electronic writes! WSS now distributes the newsletter electronically to over 250 members, and the number is growing every week. These members get the newsletter a week or more prior to folks who get the surface mail version, and can get updates on recent events, cancellations, and changes. WSS also saves printing and postage, since we don't need to send a paper copy to the electronic folks.

If you would like to receive the newsletter by e-mail, please send a note to Vince Massimini ( listing your name, organization, and internet e-mail address. If you are an ASA member, it would help if you could include your ASA number and mailing address with Zip code.

The newsletter can also be viewed as a part of the WSS WWW page, or can be downloaded in Adobe format to be read or printed. This is in addition to the usual employment, seminars, and other useful information. The WSS WWW page is at URL if you would like to give it a try.

Also, if your e-mail address has changed, please let Vince know. Your messages may be bouncing and he can't get them to you.

***** Note from the WSS NEWS Editors *****

Items for publication in the February 1997 WSS NEWS should be submitted no later than December 17, 1996. E-mail items to [Mike Feil] or [Fran Chevarley]. FAX items to Mike Feil at (301) 443-4045.


Volunteers are now being solicited to represent the Washington Statistical Society as judges in local area science fairs next spring. The WSS sponsors awards at fairs in Northern Virginia, suburban Maryland and the District of Columbia. Since 1986, WSS has provided special awards at these fairs to students whose projects demonstrate excellence in statistical theory or application. Those who have participated in this activity have very much enjoyed the opportunity to interact with the students and to observe the widely diverse projects which are presented. The fairs are held on a Saturday morning in mid-March to mid-April. The only time required is that one Saturday morning, plus one weekday lunchtime meeting to discuss judging strategy and to distribute the awards to be given out at each fair.

If you would like to be a WSS science fair judge, or if you would like additional information about this activity, please contact Lee Abramson at (301) 415-6180 or e-mail at (If you judged last spring, there is no need to contact Lee unless your mailing address or phone number has changed.)

Statistics Workshops for Girl Scouts

Fred Russell, Charles County Community College

On October 5th, 1996, I along with my colleagues Ann Anderson, Gary Frick, Vicki Magnus, and Patricia Wallace conducted statistics workshops for Brownies, Juniors, and Cadettes from Charles County. Through a series of age appropriate activities, the Scouts learned how to do sampling experiments, gather data, keep a tally, draw a bar graph, and make conclusions based on probability. Our goal was to stimulate student interest in mathematics and statistics through fun activities. Activities included: M&M experiments; coin and dice tossing; capture/recapture with goldfish from "Adopt a School"; discussion of video "What is Statistics", a 15 minute excerpt taken from Annenberg Series "Against all Odds"; and a survey questionnaire.

The questionnaire generated a lot of discussion. One of the question asked the girl scouts to vote for Clinton or Dole. We computed proportions who favor President Dole and ex-President Clinton (what a surprise that was!!). We discussed the Gallup Poll and how it is possible to predict elections like they do on NBC news. "Isn't this a flawed question? What about Ross Perot?", someone asked.

Another question asked how many cans of soda pop did you drink last week? From this we learned about bad questions. What about 2 liter bottles? What about McDonalds' fountain drinks? But I can't remember what I did last week! One of the scouts admitted publicly to drinking 21 cans of soda last week, and the rest of the group made fun of her. This led to a discussion of anonymity. If you had to put your name on the questionnaire, would you admit that you use drugs or that you are a shoplifter? They all understood.

We all enjoyed the afternoon, and we are all glad that we participated. I anticipate that our story in the local newspaper will generate invitations to do similar presentations in the Charles County Public Schools throughout the year.

The Curtis Jacobs Memorial Award

The Curtis Jacobs Memorial Award for outstanding statistics project is sponsored jointly by American Statistical Association and Washington Statistical Society. It was established in 1991 to honor the memory of a former statistician of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Mr. Jacobs, a long-time member of ASA and the Institute for Mathematical Statistics, was the chief mathematical statistician on the Consumer Price Index, the Producer Price Index, and several major economic statistics programs conducted by the BLS.

The purpose of the Jacobs Award is to provide encouragement for students to gain an understanding of surveys and their uses so they may better appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of statistics reported in the media and elsewhere. The competition is open to middle and high school students in the local Washington, D.C. area. Entrants may be individuals or teams of up to four students. The deadline for entry in the 1996-97 competition is April 14, 1997. Prizes are awarded each year at the Washington Statistical Society annual dinner.

The 1995-96 winners were a team of four students: Steven Jakubiak, Doug Weber, Neil Crabtree, and Jordan Valliere. All were students of Mrs. Rebecca Bartelt at Rocky Run Middle School in Chantilly, VA. Each student received a $50 U.S. savings bond and Mrs. Bartelt was awarded a plaque for her classroom.

Members of WSS are encouraged to provide copies of the brochure to their children's teachers. A brochure and entry form are attached to this month's newsletter. Additional brochures are available from either Paul Cook on (703) 235-5218 or Wendy Rotz on (202) 874-0969.

The WSS and ASA also welcome contributions to the Jacobs Memorial fund. Your tax deductible contribution may be sent to Penny Young, American Statistical Association, 1429 Duke St., Alexandria VA 22314-3402.


BLS is continuing to sponsor a seminar series on issues concerning confidentiality of and access to statistical data. Members of the Washington statistical community are invited to attend lectures in this series.

On Tuesday, December 17th, 12:30-2 p.m., George Duncan, Carnegie Mellon University, will discuss his current NSF-funded research. His talk is entitled "Statistical Disclosure Limitation in Computer Databases." This lecture will be held at BLS, Room 2990, 2 Massachusetts Avenue, NE. To receive a copy of the abstract or obtain more information, contact Virginia de Wolf (202-606-7374) or send e-mail to

Please note that BLS has special security procedures for non-BLS employees. Non-BLS staff who want to attend this lecture should call or e-mail Ginny de Wolf by noon of Monday, December 16th, in order to be placed on the visitor's list. Please provide your name and employer.

Announcement for International Record Linkage Conference

March 20-21, 1997 Record Linkage Workshop, Washington, D.C.

The Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics of the National Academy of Sciences, the Washington Statistical Society, the Bureau of the Census, the National Agricultural Statistical Service, and the National Center for Health Statistics are sponsoring a two-day workshop on record linkage in Washington, D.C.

The only previous major U.S. record linkage workshop (in 1985) resulted in a widely cited proceedings. Much has been accomplished in recent years and new areas of related research have arisen. A sampling of these would include the increased privacy concerns due to record linkage, the growing importance of more efficient use of statistical resources by using record linkage, heightened interest in linkage technology due to debates such as health care reform, issues in physical security of data, and the measurement of nondisclosure and reidentification risks in public use microdata files.

Record linkage involves the merging and unduplication of lists that may be used as survey frames or in conjunction with administrative files. Duplicates are a major source of error, are often not accounted for in quantitative analyses, and are very expensive to deal with during or after data collection. Computerized record linkage concepts were introduced by Newcombe in the 1950's and mathematically formalized by Fellegi and Sunter in a classic 1969 paper in JASA. Modern record linkage is practical because of new methods and software that have extended standard algorithms or introduced new algorithms in statistics, computer science, and operations research.

A full program of invited talks is planned with Ivan Fellegi as the keynote speaker. Contributed papers are still being sought. Applications of linkage technology are particularly welcome -- for example in epidemiology, demography, establishment surveys, and education, among others.

Software exhibits and hands-on tutorials are also planned. Exhibitors will demonstrate their software, informally discuss how the software works, and how they developed it. The exhibits are primarily educational and exhibitors will be sharing technical information.

Abstracts of talks or proposals for software presentations, including a brief description of the presentation, the presenter's name, affiliation, address (mailing, fax, e-mail as applicable), and phone number may be submitted anytime prior to January 3, 1997.

Registration for contributed papers is $40 and should be submitted with your abstract. For persons just wishing to register for the Conference, the cost will be $50 before February 15 and $60 thereafter.

Submit abstracts to Fritz Scheuren, Conference Chair, at 1402 Ruffner Road, Alexandria 22302. For questions or abstracts, you may use e-mail if you wish . Questions may also be directed to Fritz Scheuren (at 703-549-1120 voice, or 703-54-1119 fax) or Bill Winkler (301-457-4729 voice, 301-457-2299 fax, or

WSS People

President                         Past President
Phillip Kott (703) 235-5211       Ron Fecso (703) 235-5211
                   ext. 102                       ext. 142

Graham Kalton (301) 251-8253

Secretary                          Treasurer
Elizabeth Sweet  (301) 457-4865    Carolyn Shettle  (703) 306-1780

WSS Program Chairs

Agriculture & Natural Resources    Economics
Mike Steiner     (202) 690-2486    Linda Atkinson   (202) 219-0934
Robert Latta     (202) 586-1385    Art Kennickell   (202) 452-2247

Methodology                        Public Health and Biostatistics
Julia Bienias    (301) 457-2696    Vance Berger     (301) 594-5756
Karol Krotki     (202) 944-5243    Julie Legler     (301) 493-6832

Public Policy                      Quality Assurance
Carolee Bush     (202) 366-6946    Harold Johnson    (202) 606-7758
Phil Ross        (202) 260-5244    Amrut Champaneri  (202) 268-2299
                                   Paul L. Zador     (301) 294-2825

Social & Demographic Statistics    Statistical Computing

Michael Horrigan (202) 606-5905    Bob Jernigan      (202) 885-3170
Myron Katzoff    (703) 670-8917    Mike Fleming      (703) 235-5213
                                                           ext. 170

Short Courses                      Data Collection Methods
Fritz Scheuren   (703) 549-1120    Brad Edwards      (301) 294-2021
                                   Linda Stinson     (202) 606-7528


Bill Arends          (202) 720-6812

WSS NEWS Editors
Mike Feil            (301) 443-1330
Fran Chevarley       (301) 436-7093
                           ext. 153
Antionette Martin    (202) 426-1110
Renee Miller         (202) 426-1117
Fritz Scheuren       (703) 549-1120

Mel Kollander        (202) 973-2820

Quantitative Literacy
Shail Butani         (202) 606-6347

Local Arrangement
Robie Sangster       (202) 606-7517