Vale Joe Hilbe (1944-2017) …

I had the sad news this week of the passing of Joseph Hilbe, an important statistician and educator in the field of regression models for count data and an enthusiastic advocate of astro-statistics as an emerging discipline.  Emilie (my wife) & I met Joe three years ago at the IAUS 306 (Statistical Challenges in 21st Century Cosmology) in Lisbon where he helped to establish the COIN (Cosmostatistic Initiative) project which in turn led to a series of three papers on the Overlooked Potential of Generalised Linear Models for Astronomical Data Analysis (1 de Souza et al., 2 Elliott et al., 3 de Souza et al.).  It was actually a lucky coincidence that Joe’s interests in GLMs aligned with the concerns a number of us had been having about how often we’d seen count data mangled into bins for astronomical regression studies, but I suspect he would have found a way to steer us on to his favourite topic in any case!  On a personal level I found Joe to be a good conversationalist, although I only learnt of his track and field exploits through wikipedia (so it seems he was a modest guy too).  Even in his 70s Joe was in high demand from various groups and companies looking for statistical analysis help, and one regret I have is that I never had the time to take on some of the jobs he was hoping to offload on us younger statisticians (I suspect they would have be quite lucrative relative to my academic salary).  All that to say, Joe will be sorely missed and for those who haven’t read his books yet a good place to start is his new one coming out in June this year: Bayesian Models for Astrophysical Data.

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