Jerry Sacks Memorial Session

James Rosenberger Chair
Penn State University and NISS
Lingzhou Xue Organizer
Pennsylvania State University
James Rosenberger Organizer
Penn State University and NISS
Sunday, Aug 6: 2:00 PM - 3:50 PM
Invited Paper Session 
Metro Toronto Convention Centre 
Room: CC-718A 



Main Sponsor


Co Sponsors

History of Statistics Interest Group


Jerry Sacks and NISS

Even before NISS existed, Jerry Sacks was a moving force in its creation, by understanding and articulating the need for cross-disciplinary research involving the statistical sciences. Based on my eight years as Associate Director under Jerry and 14 years as Director, I will highlight the ups and downs of the early years of NISS. During that time, NISS evolved from four offices in rented space to a building of its own, which was ultimately shared with SAMSI. I will also focus on Jerry's and NISS' scientific heritage, both in terms of specifics and in making cross-disciplinary research commonplace in statistics. The presentation will include many photographs, not only of Jerry, but also others who helped put NISS on the path that has enabled it to thrive for more than 30 years.  


Alan Karr, AFK Analytics, LLC

Jerry Sacks and the Birth of Design and Analysis of Computer Experiments

We will review in three parts Jerry's central role in the creation of a new, and eventually enormous, field of research and application: the Design and Analysis of Computer Experiments (DACE). (1) Jerry, in collaboration with Don Ylvisaker, had a remarkable series of papers on statistical design to make regression robust to nonparametric, correlated errors. With adaptation it became the underlying Gaussian process paradigm for DACE. (2) Jerry played a pivotal role in recognizing and proposing a research program for DACE, along with Toby Mitchell, Henry Wynn, and Don Ylvisaker. We will briefly discuss how that came about. (3) Starting in the late 1980s, Jerry had the central role in a series of seminal papers on DACE, coauthored with the aforementioned researchers and others. Those papers established a methodology for analysis of computer experiments which is still ubiquitous today and the basis for efficient statistical design of computer experiments. Thus, the talk will recount some of the story of how Jerry developed and adapted statistical tools for the scientific revolution where physical experiments are complemented or supplanted by computer models of complex systems. 


William Welch, University of British Columbia

Remembering the life and work of Jerry Sacks as a NISS postdoctoral researcher

This talk will provide an overview of the contributions made by Jerry Sacks in the early stages of its postdoctoral fellowship program, as seen through the lens of an NSF-funded infrastructure project. This interdisciplinary project involved a number of research centers from across the US. The talk will cover some of the project's key research questions, many of which were shaped by Jerry, its connections to later work, and the collaborative atmosphere and social environment that Jerry fostered as part of the working life at the institute.  


Piyushimita Thakuriah, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey

The Rapid Growth of Uncertainty Quantification in the 21st Century

Sacks paper in 1989 (with Welch, Mitchell and Wynn), Design and Analysis of Computer Experiments (Statistical Science, 4, 409-435), arguably initiated what is now a huge field that spans statistics, applied mathematical modeling, engineering and many other disciplines. The field is called Uncertainty Quantification (UQ) outside of statistics, and involves the interaction of computer models (or other very complex models) with data, taking into account the many uncertainties inherent in the problem, including uncertainty in the computer models. At the National Institute of Statistical Sciences, Jerry made UQ one of the central initiatives, and started the growth of UQ. In the 21st century, this growth became exponential, including .a joint initiative in UQ between the ASA and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), involving interest groups, a new journal, and meetings. The first international conference in UQ of the ASA/SIAM initiative was in 2012; recognizing his central role in in founding the field, Jerry was one of two plenary speakers at the meeting. Jerry remained active in UQ research, participating extensively in UQ programs at SAMSI as late as 2019. 


James Berger, Duke University