The French Statistical Society

Jean-Jacques Droesbeke wrote the article Les Racines de la Societe Française de Statistique (The roots of the French Statistical Society).

The first part of the article is the French Statistical Society - Introduction. We give an English version at THIS LINK.

The second part of the article is the Statistical Society of Paris. We give an English version at THIS LINK.

The third part of the article is the From the Association of University Statisticians to the Association for Statistics and its Uses. We give an English version at THIS LINK.

The References to the article are given at THIS LINK.


4. The French Statistical Society

As we have already pointed out, the SFdS was born in July 1997 under the chairmanship of Henri Caussinus. The latter will have to complete the transition of the previous societies (ASU, SSP and SSF) to the SFdS and will launch new initiatives during his presidency which will last until 2000. He will be followed in this position by Gilbert Saporta for the two following years, by Michel Delecroix from 2002 to 2005 and since 2005 by Christiane Guinot.

Many initiatives are to be added to the list of achievements of this new society which currently brings together more than 1000 members.

There are, of course, the annual activities that are going on: the Journées de Statistique held in Rennes in 1998, in Grenoble in 1999, in Fès - it is also a first on the African continent - in 2000, in Nantes in 2001, in Brussels in 2002, in Lyon in 2003, in Montpellier in 2004 and in Pau in 2005, not to mention the Study Days in Statistics and the activities of groups. These last ones were amplified by the creation of two new specific entities, meeting the wishes expressed previously by the SSP.

First, created in 1999, was the 'Finance-Insurance' group. Under the leadership of Pierre Bertrand, it organised several thematic days, often with the support or in collaboration with other entities (the French Federation of Actuaries, the Environment group, ...) and mainly devoted to the contributions of statistics to insurance, aiming successfully at bringing theorists and users together; some have given rise to sets of concerted publications in the Journal of the French Statistical Society.

Then, in 2001, the 'Economic and Social Statistics' group, chaired by Michel-Henri Gensbittel, who will be succeeded by Jean-Louis Bodin in 2004. It is particularly relevant to public statistics - a name that was originally proposed before being replaced by the current title.

The last born of this family, the 'Environment group' dedicated since 2001 to the contribution of statistics to the science of the environment. Proposed by Claude Deniau and Georges Oppenheim, it was presided over initially by the first of them, his successor being Eric Parent.

The history of these last three entities is of course too short to talk about more, but their importance should not be neglected.

Among the first activities of the SFdS, we must particularly mention the birth of the Journal of the French Statistical Society whose ambition is to provide a tool for scientific information and communication between statisticians. Effectively and sensitively run by its editor-in-chief Henri Caussinus, this review has extended the Journal of the SSP from which it continued the numbering and constitutes a second publication of the SFdS, in perfect complicity and complementarity with the Journal of Applied Statistics.

Note also the existence of prizes awarded by the SFdS. The oldest, the Doctor Norbert Marx Award, is awarded every two years by a jury chaired since 2000 by Christiane Guinot for work on applied statistical methodology in the fields of epidemiology, public health or the economics of health. Since 2004, a second prize has been the Prix Marie-Jeanne Laurent-Duhamel. It aims to reward doctoral theses in statistics presented in the three years preceding the awarding of the prize. The jury, whose chairmanship was entrusted to Jean-Jacques Droesbeke in 2003, allocates, one year out of three, the prize to a theoretical statistical work and, the following year, to a work in applied statistics. As for the third year, this award is replaced by a tribute - the Pierre Simon de Laplace Prize - given to an established statistician whose contribution to French-speaking statistics is particularly outstanding. These last three prizes are in continuation of the tributes to statisticians of French expression that the SSP had established in the past, thus solidifying a project strongly supported by Felix Rosenfeld.

It is essential for an association to publicise the work of bright young researchers. It is also important to highlight the contribution of statisticians who have made their mark in recent decades. In the context of recognition, the SFdS also wanted to thank people who contributed to its history by designating them as Honorary Members or Honorary Presidents. Among the last of these, we think of course about Marie-Jeanne Laurent-Duhamel, joined during the merger described above by Felix Rosenfeld whose role we cited within the SSP. It became apparent at the SFdS Council in 2005 that two other endearing personalities deserved to be honoured in a similar way. The first is Georges Le Calvé, whose various activities within the ASU have been highlighted above. The second, who participated in the first steps of the ASU in his time, also put the SFdS on the path that we know now: it is of course Henri Caussinus we are talking about here. The SFdS had to thank them for their beneficial actions.

Other initiatives have also emerged in recent years. We are thinking in particular of the closer links with the Société Mathématique de France (SMF) and the SMAI, at the Lucien Le Cam conference - organised under the leadership of Marc Hallin during each Statistics Day, which aims to draw attention to recent fundamental developments in statistics - or at the statistical workshops coordinated by Christian Derquenne. The SFdS has also set up a 'Commission of Ethics', led by René Padieu and created on the occasion of the transcription into French law of the exemptions specific to statistics and research expressed in the 1995 European directive. It also set up a 'Communication Commission' - so useful for congress organisers and the dissemination of information - chaired by Alain Le Pluart. All this underlines the purpose of the SFdS, whose ambition is to cover the various theoretical and applied aspects of statistics and to establish between them all the necessary links.

Note finally that the implementation of all these actions could not be done without the dedication and the cheerful availability of the secretariat of the association, always ensured by Servane Biancardi, with the support of Nadine Heutte since 1998.

5. By way of conclusion

The history of the SFdS and its roots proves to us the dynamism of the current French-speaking statistics. The voluntary contribution of many statisticians, whose dedication deserves to be emphasised, has allowed the development and diversification of this society. We have reconstructed the history thanks to the documents quoted below and the notes written by Henri Caussinus and Marie-Jeanne Laurent-Duhamel. Our personal memories, enriched by our discussions with Georges Le Calvé, allowed us to find the structure of the text proposed in this article. Finally, the comments of many friends, whose list would be too long to quote here, but who will certainly recognise their contribution, also fed our thinking. May they all be warmly thanked!

Unfortunately, any historical story is necessarily over-simplified. We are aware that other facts could have been mentioned, other names mentioned. May we be forgiven these omissions!

The References to this article are given at THIS LINK.


JOC/EFR February 2018

The URL of this page is:
http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/Extras/Roots4.html