Jerzy Neyman

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Jerzy Neyman , also Jerzy Spława-Neyman (born April 16, 1894 in Bendery , Russian Empire , † August 5, 1981 in Oakland , California ) was a Polish - American mathematician and author of important statistical books. The Neyman-Pearson lemma and the Neyman-Pearson test are named after him.

Neyman in Warsaw 1973

Live and act

Neyman was the son of a lawyer (Czeslaw Neyman). Since he came from a Polish family, but grew up in the Russian Empire (in the Crimea ), his Russified first names were Yuri Tscheslavowitsch. As a high school student, he spoke Polish, Russian and Ukrainian as well as French and German. In 1906, after the death of his father, the family moved to his mother's relatives in Kharkov in what is now Ukraine, where he studied physics and mathematics at the university from 1912. Reading the lectures on integration by Henri Lebesgue made him switch to mathematics for good and he wrote his first work on it in 1915, which won the university's gold medal. After lectures by Sergei Natanowitsch Bernstein , he also dealt with probability theory.

After graduating from university in 1917, he taught at Kharkov University , interrupted by stays in Crimea to recover from his tuberculosis . In 1920 he married a Russian woman, but had to leave the country temporarily as a Pole due to the Polish-Soviet War after being imprisoned for a few weeks. In Poland he worked as a statistician at an agricultural institute in Bromberg and in Warsaw at the Meteorological Institute. At the same time he became an assistant at the University of Warsaw in 1923 , where he received his doctorate in 1924 on statistical experimental planning in agriculture under Waclaw Sierpinski and Stefan Mazurkiewicz . This was followed by stays in London in 1925 with a Rockefeller scholarship with Karl Pearson and in Paris with Émile Borel in 1926/27 (he also heard from Lebesgue and Jacques Hadamard ). In London he met Egon Pearson , with whom he worked closely in the period that followed. In 1927 he returned to Poland, completed his habilitation, taught as a lecturer and founded a biometric laboratory there. In 1934 he took a permanent position at University College London , where Egon Pearson had now succeeded his father. After tension between Neyman and Ronald Fisher at University College , Neyman (although Egon Pearson wanted to hold him) after a series of guest lectures in the United States in 1937 as a lecturer in Berkeley , where he remained for the rest of his life. In Berkeley he built an internationally leading school of mathematical statistics, which was given its own faculty there in 1955.

Jerzy Neyman, Berkeley 1969

In 1954 he gave a plenary lecture at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Amsterdam (Current Problems in Mathematical Statistics).


In 1966 he was awarded the Guy Medal in gold by the Royal Statistical Society for his work . In 1968 he received the Wilks Award from the American Statistical Society. Since 1974 he has been an honorary member of the London Mathematical Society , since 1963 a member of the National Academy of Sciences , since 1976 a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and since 1979 a member of the Royal Society .

The asteroid (29447) Jerzyneyman was named after him.


  • with Egon Pearson: Joint statistical papers. Cambridge University Press 1966.
  • Selection of early statistical papers of J. Neyman. University of California Press 1967.
  • First Course in Probability and Statistics. Holt, New York 1950.
  • with Grace Bates: Contributions to the theory of accident proneness. University of California Press 1952
  • as editor: Proceedings of the Berkeley Symposium on Mathematical Statistics and Probability. University of California Press, 1949 (first symposium 1945/6), 1951 (2nd symposium 1950), 1956 (3rd symposium 1954/55, 5 volumes), 1961 (4th symposium 1960, 4 volumes), 1967 (5. Symposium 1965/6, 5 volumes), 1972 (6th Symposium 1970/71, 6 volumes)
  • as editor: The heritage of Copernicus-theories pleasing the mind. MIT Press, 1974.


  • Constance Reid : Neyman from life. New York 1982.
  • FN David (Ed.): Research papers in statistics. Festschrift for J. Neyman, Wiley 1966.
  • Lucien Le Cam, Richard Olshen (Eds.): Proceedings of the Berkeley Symposium in honor of J. Neyman and Jack Kiefer. 2 volumes, Wadsworth Advanced Books, Monterey 1985.

See also

Web links


  1. ^ Constance Reid, Neyman, p. 45. He published his early work under Splawa-Neyman. It is a family tradition and not a real title of nobility. According to family legend, an ancestor helped a Polish king during a siege by delivering water with a raft, which is why they supposedly had the right to this name affix and a coat of arms (Polish splawiac means raft).