MacArthur Fellows Program

MacArthur Fellows / Meet the Class of February 1983

Bradley Efron


Stanford, California

Age: 45 at time of award

Published February 1, 1983

Bradley Efron is a statistician whose work focuses on the problem of assessing the accuracy of complicated statistical procedures.

He works on a combination of theoretical and applied topics, including Bayesian statistics, survival analysis, exponential families, and confidence intervals.  Efron is particularly interested in computer-intensive methods that substitutes computation for theoretical analysis.  The benefit of this approach is freedom from the classical assumptions of bell-shaped curves and simple models.  Efron’s “bootstrap method,” first published in 1979, is a computer-based technique that uses resampling to assess the accuracy of statistical estimates; it is particularly powerful with complex nonparametric problems where analytic methods are cumbersome or unavailable.  Capturing the imaginations of theoreticians and applied statisticians, the bootstrap method established a new framework for simulation-based statistical analysis. 

Efron has been at Stanford University since 1960, first as a graduate student and now as a professor of statistics and biostatistics.  He is the Max H. Stein Professor of Humanities and Science and is also chairman of the Mathematical and Computational Sciences Program, the University’s interdisciplinary major that combines mathematics, statistics, computer science, and operations research. 

Efron received a B.S. (1960) from the California Institute of Technology, and an M.S. (1962) and a Ph.D. (1964) from Stanford University.

Last updated January 1, 2005.