Forest-Bw

Richard Mansfield "Dick" Dudley

January 19, 2020

Obituary

Richard Mansfield Dudley (“Dick Dudley”) of Newton died on January 19, 2020 at the age of 81 after a long illness.

 

Dick was Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at MIT, where he taught from 1967 to 2015. As described by the editors of Selected Works of R.M. Dudley (Springer 2010), Dick is regarded as one of the most influential mathematicians in the latter half of the 20th century in the development of Probability and Mathematical Statistics. He published over 100 articles, numerous books and monographs (often beginning as lecture notes), spanning a 45-year research career. Among a number of seminal contributions to probability theory, he is particularly known for providing a new framework for the study of Gaussian processes and for enabling empirical processes to become useful and pervasive in asymptotic statistics. His work continues to influence contemporary statistics and mathematical foundations of machine learning. His most cited work is his book Real Analysis and Probability.  Throughout his career Dick was highly regarded as a graduate mentor. He was advisor to 32 PhD candidates at MIT. 

 

Dick served the scholarly community as Associate Editor (1972-1978), and then as Chief Editor (1979-1981) of Annals of Probability. He was a member of the editorial board of the Wadsworth/Brooks/Cole Advanced Series in Statistics/Probability (1982-1992).  A former Sloan and Guggenheim fellow, Dick was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, the American Statistical Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Mathematical Society. He was selected to be a Member of the International Statistical Institute.

 

Dick graduated from Harvard College in 1959 and received a PhD from Princeton in 1962.  From 1962 to 1966 he taught at UC Berkeley.  While at Berkeley, he volunteered one day a week as a news writer and broadcaster for public radio station KPFA.

 

When Dick was a toddler, his parents bought a summer house (called a “camp”) on Little Squam Lake in New Hampshire. In the footsteps of his father, Dick developed a love of mountain climbing. As an adult he led Sierra Club outings to the White Mountains and was Editor of the Appalachian Mountain Club White Mountain Guide, 22nd Edition, 1979. The extended Dudley family has continued to gather at the camp almost every summer since the house was bought in 1939. 

 

After their marriage Dick and his wife, Liza Martin, traveled in Europe frequently, usually to meetings where Dick was an invited speaker followed by vacations.  France was a favorite destination.  Dick loved hiking in the French Alps.  His most ambitious climb was up Mt. Blanc.

 

Dick loved classical music.  When he retired he edited Wikipedia articles about composers including Clara Schumann, Amy Beach, Dvořák, and Mozart.  Dick was a life-long Democrat.  He worked to stop the war in Vietnam and on nuclear disarmament, and he supported many Progressive candidates (particularly those endorsed by EMILY’s List) and organizations working for peace, social justice and conservation.

 

Despite his many accomplishments, Dick was a quiet, modest, and kind man.  He is deeply missed by his wife, Elizabeth (Liza) Martin, his sisters Edith D. Sylla and Alice D. Carmel, and their family members: Richard E. Sylla (brother-in-law) and nieces Anne C. Sylla, Margaret S. Padua, and Genevieve M. Carmel. 

 

Memorial contributions may be made in Dick’s name to The Environmental Defense Fund (www.edf.org) or Partners in Health (www.pih.org).


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