Highlights from Recent George Box Speech

Posted on November 16, 2009  Comments (6)

The JMP blog has posted some highlights from George Box’s presentation at Discovery 2009

Infusing his entire presentation with humor and fascinating tales of his memories, Box focused on sequential design of experiments. He attributed much of what he knows about DOE [design of experiments] to Ronald A. Fisher. Box explained that Fisher couldn’t find the things he was looking for in his data, “and he was right. Even if he had had the fastest available computer, he’d still be right,” said Box. Therefore, Fisher figured out how to study a number of factors at one time. And so, the beginnings of DOE.

Having worked and studied with many other famous statisticians and analytic thinkers, Box did not hesitate to share his characterizations of them. He told a story about Dr. Bill Hunter and how he required his students to run an experiment. Apparently a variety of subjects was studied [see 101 Ways to Design an Experiment, or Some Ideas About Teaching Design of Experiments]

According to Box, the difficulty of getting DOE to take root lies in the fact that these mathematicians “can’t really get the fact that it’s not about proving a theorem, it’s about being curious about things. There aren’t enough people who will apply [DOE] as a way of finding things out. But maybe with JMP, things will change that way.”

George Box is a great mind and great person who I have had the privilege of knowing my whole life. My father took his class at Princeton, then followed George to the University of Wisconsin-Madison (where Dr. Box founded the statistics department and Dad received the first PhD). They worked together building the UW statistics department, writing Statistics for Experimenters and founding the Center for Quality and Productivity Improvement among many other things.

Statistics for Experimenters: Design, Innovation, and Discovery shows that the goal of design of experiments is to learn and refine your experiment based on the knowledge you gain and experiment again. It is a process of discovery. If done properly it is very similar to the PDSA cycle with the application of statistical tools to aid in determining the impact of various factors under study.

Related: Box on QualityGeorge Box Quotationsposts on design of experimentsUsing Design of Experiments

6 Responses to “Highlights from Recent George Box Speech”

  1. Bruce Baker
    November 16th, 2009 @ 10:57 pm

    Statistics for Experimenters is a great book. I keep that and Montgomery’s Design and Analysis of Experiments as my two doe refs. When I used to teach Six Sigma and we would get to CCDs I would tell my students that the only two important technical breakthroughs of 1957 were Chevrolet’s achievement of 1 hp per ci in the fuel injected 283 and the Box Hunter Central Composite Design. Did Behnken and Cox work at UW too?

  2. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Florence Nightingale: The passionate statistician
    November 21st, 2009 @ 10:20 am

    […] to all to achieve great improvement. Unfortunately it is still very underused. As George Box says: applied statistics is not about proving a theorem, it’s about being curious about things. The goal of design of experiments is to learn and refine your experiment based on the knowledge […]

  3. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Statistics Insights for Scientists and Engineers
    December 5th, 2009 @ 2:44 pm

    To me the key trait for applied statistics is to help experimenters learn quickly: it is an aid in the discovery process. It should not be a passive tool for analysis (which is how people often think of statistics)…

  4. Factorial Designed Experiment Aim » Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog
    April 25th, 2011 @ 8:26 am

    The aim needs to consider what you are trying to learn, costs and potential rewards. Weighing the various factors will determine if you want to aim to keep results within specification or can try options that are likely to return results that are outside of specs…

  5. George Box » Curious Cat Management Blog
    March 31st, 2013 @ 2:13 am

    George was a very kind, caring and fun person. He was a gifted storyteller and writer. He had the ability to present ideas so they were easy to comprehend and appreciate…

  6. The Art of Discovery - video with George EP Box » Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog
    April 18th, 2013 @ 2:59 am

    “I think the quality revolution is nothing more, or less, than the dramatic expansion of the of scientific problem solving using informed observation and directed experimentation to find out more about the process, the product and the customer…”

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