George Box was a British industrial and academic statistician who made seminal contributions to theory and practice in the areas of quality control, time-series analysis, the design of experiments, and Bayesian inference, and was the recipient of many awards and honours. He left school at the age of 16 years and, following his early interest in chemistry, found employment as the assistant to the chemist who managed the local sewage treatment plant. While working at the plant, he enrolled for a chemistry degree course with the University of London's External System, but soon after the outbreak of World War II he joined the army and ceased working on the degree. While in the army he was tasked with conducting biochemical experiments relating to the effects of mustard gas but came to realize that the real expertise required was that of a statistician rather than a chemist. After the war he enrolled at University College London and obtained a BSc in mathematics and statistics. From 1948 to 1956 he was employed as an industrial statistician at Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI). While at ICI he took a year's leave of absence in 1953 to serve as a visiting professor at the North Carolina State University at Raleigh. He then returned to ICI but in 1956 accepted a post at Princeton University as director of the university's Statistical Techniques Research Group. In 1959 he left Princeton for the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where in 1960 he founded the University of Wisconsin's Department of Statistics, retiring as an emeritus professor in 1991. He was a man of great personal humour and warmth who cared deeply about his colleagues and was much loved in return by his many students and collaborators.
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Published by the Royal Society