Statist. Sci. 21 (1), 99-112, (February 2006) DOI: 10.1214/088342304000000224
Zhiliang Ying, Cun-Hui Zhang
Yuan Shih Chow was born in Hubei province in China, on September 1, 1924. The eldest child of a local militia and political leader, he grew up in war and turmoil. His hometown was on the front line during most of the Japanese invasion and occupation of China. When he was 16, Y. S. Chow journeyed, mostly on foot, to Chongqing (Chung-King), the wartime Chinese capital, to finish his high school education. When the Communist party gained power in China, Y. S. Chow had already followed his university job to Taiwan. In Taiwan, he taught mathematics as an assistant at National Taiwan University until he came to the United States in 1954. At the University of Illinois, he studied under J. L. Doob and received his Ph.D. in 1958. He served as a staff mathematician and adjunct faculty at the IBM Watson Research Laboratory and Columbia University from 1959 to 1962. He was a member of the Statistics Department at Purdue University from 1962 to 1968. From 1968 until his retirement in 1993, Y. S. Chow served as Professor of Mathematical Statistics at Columbia University. At different times, he was a visiting professor at the University of California at Berkeley, University of Heidelberg (Germany) and the National Central University, Taiwan. He served as Director of the Institute of Mathematics of Academia Sinica, Taiwan, and Director of the Center of Applied Statistics at Nankai University, Tianjin, China. He was instrumental in establishing the Institute of Statistics of Academia Sinica in Taiwan. He is currently Professor Emeritus at Columbia University.
Y. S. Chow is a fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, a member of the International Statistical Institute and a member of Taiwan’s Academia Sinica. He has numerous publications, including Great Expectations: The Theory of Optimal Stopping (1971), in collaboration with Herbert Robbins and David Siegmund, and Probability Theory (1978), in collaboration with Henry Teicher. Y. S. Chow has a strong interest in mathematics education. He taught high school mathematics for one year in 1947 and wrote a book on high school algebra in collaboration with J. H. Teng and M. L. Chu. In 1992, Y. S. Chow, together with I. S. Chang and W. C. Ho, established the Chinese Institute of Probability and Statistics in Taiwan.
This conversation took place in the fall of 2003 in Dobbs Ferry, New York.