On September 10th 2020 the revolutionary mathematician and statistician Calyampudi Radhakrishna (C.R.) Rao celebrated his hundredth birthday. A President’s National Medal of Science Laureate, he is recognized worldwide as a pioneer of modern statistical theory and as one of the world’s top five statisticians, with multifaceted distinctions as a mathematician, researcher, scientist, and an educator.


Widely regarded as a living legend whose work has influenced beyond statistics and has had far-reaching implications in various disciplines, he has been awarded both the Padma Bhushan (1968) and the Padma Vibhushan (2001), amongst many others. Recognizing his contributions, the Government of India has also instituted a biennial national award in Statistics known as the ‘The Professor C.R. Rao’ Award.

In his honour, Pennsylvania State University has established a C.R. and Bhargavi Rao Prize in Statistics. Additionally, CR Rao Advanced Institute of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science and a ‘Prof. C.R. Rao Road’ in Hyderabad are named after him.



Born in 1920, in Karnataka, a southern state of India, C.R. Rao was the eighth child born in a family of six brothers and four sisters. After being deemed too young to secure a job as a mathematician at an army survey unit, he applied for a one-year training programme in Statistics at the Indian Statistical Institute. His application received a prompt and positive response from P.C. Mahalanobis, the founder and a giant in the discipline.



From there, he secured an MSc in Mathematics at Andhra University in 1941, an MA in statistics from Calcutta University in 1943 and a PhD degree at King's College in Cambridge University in 1948. Cambridge University awarded him the prestigious Sc.D. degree in 1965, and he has received 31 Honorary Doctoral degrees from universities in 18 countries.  



C.R. Rao has made contributions to nearly every field of statistics from estimation theory and the testing of hypotheses by new tests to linear models developing g-inverses and multivariate analysis, including cluster analysis and factor analysis. He has also worked on the characterizations of probability distributions, entropy measures, signal processing, sequential bootstrap, shape analysis, design of experiments and sample surveys. In addition to this, there are significant contributions to econometrics by him as well.



In India, under the direction of P.C. Mahalanobis, he worked to set up statistical bureaus in different states and developed a network of statistical agencies at the district level for collecting data. Together with the Central Statistical Organization and the National Sample Survey, in the planning of which Professor C.R. Rao played a significant role. Today, India has one of the best national statistical systems.


C.R. Rao is the author of 14 books, and nearly 400 research journals, of which many are published in several international languages. He is also the founder of the Indian Econometric Society (IES) and Indian Society for Medical Statistics (ISMS), which hold conferences every year to discuss problems of current interest. The IES has been especially active in promoting quantitative studies in economics for planning purposes. 


Explaining the fundamental nature of his work, C.R. Rao states that ‘All knowledge is, in the final analysis, history. All sciences are, in the abstract, mathematics and all methods of acquiring knowledge are essentially statistics.’


To view the felicitation ceremony in honour of Dr. CR Rao's 100th birthday please click here



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