Tony Greenfield 1931-2019

Written by Web News Editor on . Posted in News

We are very saddened to hear of the death of former RSS vice president Tony Greenfield, the industrial statistician whose name is given to our Greenfield medal, which recognises contributions of statistical science to the manufacturing industry.

Tony started his working life as a science journalist but joined a large stainless steel company's Operations Research (OR) section at their request, because: 'The OR section is full of very clever people who write reports that we (the board) don’t understand. I want you to write interpretations for us.' While there he tackled the ‘job shop problem’, a topic covered by many academic papers at the time. 

After taking a degree in statistics at London University he moved to the research laboratories of the British Iron and Steel Research Association (BISRA) in Sheffield in 1965 and built up a process computing and statistics department providing a consultancy service to other departments. He introduced the use of contemporary multivariate statistical methods to the whole industry. In the late sixties, he helped develop an interactive statistical analysis package that had many features of modern packages. He also developed a computing procedure to facilitate experiment design and installed an IBM 1800 computer to monitor and control steel production machines.

In the seventies he worked in medical statistics and worked at a multi-centre study into cot deaths, introducing data management and analysis systems. He was awarded a PhD for his thesis on 'The automatic design of experiments'. He later developed a computing package (MetaGen) for the modelling and simulation of clinical trials. 

In 1980 he became chair of medical statistics at Queen’s University, Belfast. His course for medical staff on research methods led to the book Research Methods: Guidance for post-graduates. Other books featuring his contribution include include The Pocket Statistician, Statistical Practice in Business and Industry and Analyse Your Experiment Using Minitab. After retiring in 1984 he continued to work as a consultant with manufacturing and pharmaceutical industries and universities. 

Tony was vice president of the RSS 1977/78 and the inaugural chair of the Quality Improvement committee when it started in 1984. He was a chartered statistician, chair of the Business and Industrial Statistics section and on the board of the RSS Applied Statistics journal. He edited the Society's RSS News and was the inaugural winner of the RSS Chambers Medal. He represented the RSS as a Member of the UK Parliamentary and Scientific committee (1992-96). The Society's Greenfield Industrial Medal, awarded for effective application of statistical methods to the manufacturing and industry, was named after him.

He helped to set up European Network of Business and Industrial Statistics (ENBIS) in 2000, serving as its president 2002-3. In 2004 he accepted the William G Hunter award by the American Society for Quality and he received the ENBIS George Box Medal for outstanding contributions to Business and Industrial Statistics in 2009.


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