Calyampudi Radhakrishna Rao, FRS known as C. R. Rao (born 10 September 1920) is an Indian statistician. He is currently professor emeritus at Penn State University and Research Professor at the University at Buffalo. Rao has been honored by numerous colloquia, honorary degrees, and festschrifts and was awarded the US National Medal of Science in 2002. The American Statistical Association has described him as “a living legend whose work has influenced not just statistics, but has had far reaching implications for fields as varied as economics, genetics, anthropology, geology, national planning, demography, biometry, and medicine.” The Times of India listed Rao as one of the top 10 Indian scientists of all time.
C R Rao was born in Hadagali, Karnataka, India. He received an MSc degree in mathematics from Andhra University and an MSc degree in statistics from Calcutta University in 1943.
Rao worked at the Indian Statistical Institute and the Anthropological Museum in Cambridge before acquiring a Ph.D. degree at King’s College in Cambridge University under R.A. Fisher in 1948, to which he added a Sc.D. degree, also from Cambridge, in 1965.
He held several important positions, as the Director of the Indian Statistical Institute, Jawaharlal Nehru Professor and National Professor in India, University Professor at the University of Pittsburgh and Eberly Professor and Chair of Statistics and Director of the Center for Multivariate Analysis at the Pennsylvania State University. As Head and later Director of the Research and Training School at the Indian Statistical Institute for a period of over 40 years, Rao developed research and training programs and produced several leaders in the field of Mathematics. On the basis of Dr. Rao’s recommendation, the ASI (The Asian Statistical Institute) now known as Statistical Institute for Asia and Pacific was established in Tokyo to provide training to statisticians working in government and industrial organizations.
Among his best-known discoveries are the Cramér–Rao bound and the Rao–Blackwell theorem both related to the quality of estimators. Other areas he worked in include multivariate analysis, estimation theory, and differential geometry. His other contributions include the Fisher–Rao Theorem, Rao distance, and orthogonal arrays. He is the author of 14 books and has published over 400 journal publications.
Rao has received over 35 honorary doctoral degrees from universities in 18 countries around the world and numerous awards and medals for his contributions to statistics and science. He is a member of eight National Academies in India, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Italy. Rao was awarded the United States National Medal of Science, that nation’s highest award for lifetime achievement in fields of scientific research, in June 2002. The latest addition to his collection of awards is the India Science Award for 2010, the highest honor conferred by the government of India in scientific domain.
He has been the President of the International Statistical Institute, Institute of Mathematical Statistics (USA), and the International Biometric Society. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame of India’s National Institution for Quality and Reliability (Chennai Branch) for his contribution to industrial statistics and the promotion of quality control programs in industries.