David Hill 1926-2015

Written by Web News Editor on . Posted in News

We are very sorry to announce that a long-term member and former honorary secretary of the Society, David Hill, passed away last month, aged 88.

He was a statistician at the Medical Research Council for much of his life and published many papers on statistics, both solely and in collaboration with others.

After graduating from UCL, he first worked at the National Physical Laboratory, before moving to the MRC in 1962. Here he worked - firstly with Richard Doll and later with Clive Spicer at the Clinical Research Centre at Northwick Park - in various computing and statistical divisions until retirement. He published papers with sole authorship as early as 1956 in applied statistics, and then with Richard Doll from 1962. He also published many papers in collaboration with others and was much involved with programming languages, especially Algol 60. With Paul Griffiths he produced ‘Applied Statistics Algorithms’.

David was the son of Sir Austin Bradford Hill FRS, the former RSS president who was perhaps most famous as a proponent of the randomised controlled trial and for his work on linking smoking and lung cancer (the Hill/Doll report). During his career David helped his father to produce a new edition of his book ‘Principles of Medical Statistics’ and ‘Bradford Hill’s Principles of Medical Statistics’.

David was a keen proponent of the single transferable voting (STV) system (arising from his 4x great grandfather, Sir Thomas Wright Hill, who devised the rules for that method of voting in 1819). He constructed computer programmes to make the use of STV more practical and was involved with the Electoral Reform Society for some years - at one time as a council member.

He was proposed for election to the RSS in November 1952 by his father, and he became an enthusiastic member and as honorary secretary he simplified many of its rules. In 1983 he was awarded the Chambers Medal for outstanding services to the Society.

A funeral took place for David on October 6 in Amersham. A full obituary will be published in the Royal Statistical Society Series A journal in due course.

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