News about activities of the Washington Statistical Society
A Chapter of the American Statistical Association

September 1997


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1997 Julius Shiskin Award Given To Jack E. Triplett

The Washington Statistical Society and The National Association of Business Economists announced that the 1997 Julius Shiskin Award has been awarded to Jack E. Triplett, Chief Economist of the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

In granting the 1997 award, the committee cited Dr. Triplett's broad contributions to the field of economic measurement, including the development and introduction of hedonic price index measurement techniques and superlative price and quantity indices in the National Income and Product Accounts and, most recently, the development and implementation of the North American Industry Classification System.

Martin Fleming, Chairman of the Award Committee said "Jack's work is at the heart of the most important efforts, today, to provide improved economic information to policy makers in the Administration, Congress and the Federal Reserve." Dr. Fleming also said "Jack's contribution to the effort to develop new and sophisticated price indices, while somewhat arcane to many, has been very important in the effort to separate the effects of inflation and real growth and to ultimately understand the true wealth creating potential of the US economy." The current launch of the North American Industry Classification System by the US statistical agencies was termed "a critical piece of the foundation for the future of our economic statistics system" by Dr. Fleming and he said "Jack's hard work and perseverance have made all the difference in the success of this massive undertaking."

The Julius Shiskin Award was established by the family of the late Julius Shiskin and is administered by the Washington Statistical Society and the National Association of Business Economists. The committee said that the award was intended to honor original and important contributions in the development of economic statistics and in their use in interpreting economic events. Mr. Shiskin's government career as an economic statistician spanned more than 30 years during which time he worked at the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the Office of Management and Budget and culminated at the U.S. Department of Labor as the Commissioner of Labor Statistics.

In recent years the award has also been received by David Findley of the Census Bureau; Fritz Scheuren formerly of the Internal Revenue Service; Richard D. Allen of the National Agricultural Statistics Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture; and Joel Popkin of Joel Popkin and Company.

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A Statistician Strikes Back: Don Berry Presents a WSS Seminar

Donald A. Berry of Duke University presented a standing-room-only seminar on July 1 at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). His talk was co-sponsored by NCI and the Public Health & Biostatistics and Public Policy Committees of WSS. Dr. Berry had been on the controversial consensus panel convened earlier this year by NCI and the National Institutes of Health Office of Medical Applications of Research to consider recommendations on mammography for women in their 40's. The panel agreed with earlier recommendations that women in their 50's should get regular mammograms, but, no clear guidelines could be offered universally to women in their 40's. The decision on whether a woman in this age group get a mammogram should be up to the woman and her physician depending on family history and personal risk factors.

Dr. Berry first gave a historical perspective of the panel and its work. He then reproduced the slides he showed the National Cancer Advisory Board, adding in a few technical transparencies for the largely-statistician audience. Dr. Berry argued that limited meta-analysis of the available studies (limited in that he did not have access to the micro-data) showed a modest gain from mammography for women in their 40's in terms of increased life expectancy. Although the public needed to be informed about this result, a blanket recommendation that all women in their 40's get mammograms was uncalled for until a number of other research areas had been explored.

Dr. Berry went on to sketch the reaction to the Panel's findings. Essentially, Congress did not like what the panel had to say and demanded that NCI come up with a different recommendation. Eventually, however, tempers cooled and the wisdom of the Panel's decision was widely recognized. Dr. Berry has had the opportunity to present his take of the entire affair at a host of venues, which he does with considerable wit and relish.

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Mid-Atlantic Regional Probability & Statistics Day
October 18, 1997

This year's Mid-Atlantic Regional Probability and Statistics Day will be held Saturday, 18 October 1997, at The Johns Hopkins University, Applied Physics Laboratory, located approximately midway between Baltimore, MD and Washington, DC. This informal meeting provides an opportunity for professionals in academia, government, business and industry to meet and communicate recent findings and discuss common interests. Informal talks on all aspects of probability and statistics are invited, including discussions of preliminary and on-going work. Participation by graduate students is also encouraged.

For more information, contact:

Stacy D. Hill
The Johns Hopkins University
Applied Physics Laboratory, Room 8-178
Laurel, MD 20723-6099
phone: (301) 953-6000, ext. 4966
fax: (301) 953-6519.

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Mentoring For Science Fair Projects

In conjunction with the science fair judging which WSS does every spring, a mentoring program for students planning science fair projects for the 1997-98 school year is now being organized. This would involve helping individual or small groups of students whose projects involve statistical topics such as survey or experimental design, data collection, data analysis, etc. If you would like to participate in such a mentoring program, please call or e-mail Lee Abramson at 301-415-6180 or LXA@NRC.GOV as soon as possible. Also, please indicate the school or geographic area you would like to work in.

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Elder To Teach Short Course In Alexandria

Find the useful information hidden in your data!

Tools for Discovering Patterns in Data will survey the leading computer-intensive methods for data analysis, classification, and inductive modelling, drawn from statistics, machine learning, and data mining. The course will be taught by John Elder on Friday, October 3, 1997 at the George Washington University Alexandria Graduate Education Center from 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

It will describe the key inner workings of various algorithms, compare their merits, and (briefly) demonstrate their relative effectiveness on practical applications. Dr. Elder will first review classic statistical techniques, both linear and nonparametric, then outline the ways in which these basic tools are modified and combined into more modern methods. The course pays particular attention to four powerful approaches: neural networks, polynomial networks, kernels, and decision trees, and uses actual scientific and business problems to demonstrate useful accompanying techniques (such as scientific visualization, resampling, and bundling) employed by experienced analysts.

For a tuition fee of $350, students will receive comprehensive notes and the recent book chapter, "A Statistical Perspective on Knowledge Discovery in Databases," by Elder and Pregibon, in addition to refreshments and lunch. The facility is located across the street from the King Street Metro Station, only two stops from National Airport. It is adjacent to the Embassy Suites Hotel on Duke Street in Old Town, Alexandria. John Elder is chief scientist of Quantitative Solutions, a data mining research firm in Charlottesville, Virginia, and an adjunct professor at the University of Virginia. He has more than a decade of experience developing and applying adaptive, data-driven techniques to practical problems. He has been a researcher at Rice University and director of research at an engineering consulting firm and for an investment management company. He has authored four book chapters and numerous articles on pattern discovery and is the technical chair of the Adaptive and Learning Systems Group of the IEEE Systems, Man, and Cybernetics Society.

Those from industry and academia who work with data and wish to understand recent developments in pattern discovery, data mining, and inductive modeling will most benefit from this course. At its conclusion, participants should be able to discern the basic strengths of competing methods and select the appropriate tools for applications. Participants should have prior working experience with computers and knowledge of, or interest in, applied statistical techniques.

For more information or a registration form, contact Sue Kulesher,, at the American Statistical Association, 1429 Duke Street, Alexandria VA 22314 or by fax at 703-684- 2037 or check it out on the ASA CE website. Visit the ASA home page:

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Meeting Announcement

32nd Annual Symposium of the
Washington Operations Research-Management Science Council

The Washington DC Metro Area Chapter of INFORMS

November 5, 1997
Brookings Institution
1775 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20036-2188

Managing Change . . .
The Contribution of Operations Research and Management Science

The keynote speaker will be the Honorable James L. Witt, Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Chair of the President's Management Council on Customer Service.

Plan now to attend. For additional information on presenting your paper, please contact: Bruce MacDonald, Program Chair ( Phone 703-506-4600.

Information: phone 301-939-3012 or

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International Symposium on Linked Employer-Employee Data
May 21 - 22, 1998 -- Washington, D.C. Area

Call for papers

The Bureau of the Census, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the Sloan Foundation are sponsoring a 2- day international conference on Linked Employer- Employee Data to be held on May 21-22, 1998, in Washington, D.C.

Keynote speakers will include:

  • Katharine Abraham
    Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • Borjie Dernulf
    Statistics Sweden
  • Wolfgang Franz
    Center for European Economic Research
  • Dan Hamermesh
    University of Texas
  • Martha Farnsworth Riche
    Bureau of the Census
  • Jules Theeuwes
    University of Lieden
  • To have a paper considered for presentation, send your one-page abstract by October 15, 1997 to:

    John Haltiwanger
    Chief Economist
    Bureau of the Census
    Room 211-WP2
    Washington, D.C. 20233
    Phone: 301-457-1848
    Fax: 301-457-1235

    Abstracts should include a brief description of the paper, the presenter's name, affiliation, mailing address, telephone and fax numbers, and e-mail address, if available. Early submissions are encouraged.

    Topics include:

    Final papers will be due on April 15, 1998. A limited number of papers will be selected for inclusion in a special issue of Labor Economics.

    All travel costs will be included for individuals presenting papers.

    To obtain registration information, contact:

    Carol McDaniel
    Conference and Travel Management
    Services Branch
    Bureau of the Census
    Washington, D.C. 20233

    Phone: 301-457-2308

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    Note From The WSS NEWS Editors

    Items for publication in the October 1997 WSS NEWS should be submitted no later August 30, 1997. E-mail items to [Michael Feil] or [Fran Chevarley]. FAX items to Michael Feil at (301) 443-4045.

    The October WSS NEWS will feature the annual reports of the present and past presidents and the WSS members elected as ASA fellows at the most recent JSM.

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    WSS People

    Graham Kalton (301) 251-8253
    Past President
    Phillip Kott (703) 235-5211 ext. 102
    Dwight Brock (301) 496-9795
    Elizabeth Sweet (301) 457-4865
    Carolyn Shettle (703) 306-1780

    Vice Chair for District 2 of
    Council of Chapters

    Andrew A. White (202) 334-2511
    Council of Chapters Representative
    Ron Fecso (703) 235-5211 ext. 142
    N. Clyde Tucker (202) 606-7371
    Sandra West (202) 606-7384
    Alan R. Tupek (703) 306-1780
    David Marker (301) 251-4398

    WSS Program Chairs
    Agriculture & Natural Resources
    Bill Iwig (202) 720-3895
    Stan Freedman (202) 426-1099
    Linda Atkinson (202) 219-0934
    Art Kennickell (202) 452-2247
    Karol Krotki (202) 944-5243
    Brenda Cox (202) 484-4231
    Public Health and Biostatistics
    Trena Ezzati-Rice (301) 436-7022 ext. 133
    Rene Gonin (301) 517-8084
    Public Policy
    Carolee Bush (202) 366-6946
    Phil Ross (202) 260-5244
    Quality Assurance
    Amrut Champaneri (202) 268-2299
    Glenn White (202) 327-6414
    Statistical Computing
    Bob Jernigan (202) 885-3170
    Mike Fleming (703) 235-5213 ext. 170
    Social & Demographic Statistics
    Michael Horrigan (202) 606-5905
    Edith McArthur (202) 219-1442
    Short Courses
    Roberta Sangster (202) 606-7517
    Fritz Scheuren (703) 549-1120
    Data Collection Methods
    Brad Edwards (301) 294-2021
    Linda Stinson (202) 606-7528

    Bill Arends (202) 720-6812
    WSS NEWS Editors
    Michael Feil (301) 443-4234
    Fran Chevarley (301) 436-7093 ext. 153
    Electronic Mail
    Michael L. Cohen (202) 334-3765
    Michael Greene (703) 247-1575
    S.V. (Vince) Massimini (703) 883-5893
    Renee Miller (202) 426-1117
    Antionette Martin 202) 426-1110
    Fritz Scheuren (703) 549-1120
    Quantitative Literacy
    Carolyn Carroll (703) 352-1712
    Science Fair
    Lee Abramson (301) 415-6180
    Mel Kollander (202) 973-2820
    Social Arrangements
    Jill Montaquila (301) 517-4046
    Local Arrangement
    Wendy Rotz (202) 874-0969
    WSS Historian
    Michael P. Cohen (202) 219-1917
    WSS Committee on ASA Fellows
    Brenda Cox (202) 484-4231

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    First posted July 29, 1997
    Last modified September 29, 1997

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