September 29, 1895–December 26, 1973


HAROLD HOTELLING WAS A man of many interests and talents. After majoring in journalism at the University of Washington and obtaining his B.A in that field in 1919, he did his graduate work in mathematics at Princeton, where he received his Ph.D. in 1924 with a thesis on topology. Upon leaving Princeton, he took a position as research associate at the Food Research Institute of Stanford University, from where he moved to the Stanford Mathematics Department as an associate professor in 1927. It was during his Stanford period that he began to focus on the two fields—statistics and economics—in which he would do his life’s work. He was one of the few Americans who in the 1920s realized the revolution that R. A. Fisher had brought about in statistics and he spent six months in 1929 at the Rothamstead (United Kingdom) agricultural research station to work with Fisher.

In 1931 Hotelling accepted a professorship in the Economics Department of Columbia University. He taught a course in mathematical economics, but most of his energy during his 15 years there was spent developing the first program in the modern (Fisherian) theory of statistics. With the aid of a grant from the Carnegie Corporation, he was

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