John Chambers was a member of Bell Labs research from 1966 until his retirement in 2005. His research has touched on nearly all aspects of computing with data but he is best known for the design (and continuing re-design) of the S language and its successor, R.
After retiring from Bell Labs, Dr. Chambers visited and taught at several universities, including University of Auckland, UCLA, and Stanford. Since 2008, he has been active at Stanford University where he is currently Adjunct Professor, Department of Statistics and Senior Advisor, Stanford Data Science.
He is the author or co-author of nine books; his most recent book is “Extending R” (CRC Press, 2016). His first book, “Computational Methods for Data Analysis” (Wiley, 1977), was the first general treatment of statistical computing. He was co-author of “Graphical Methods for Data Analysis”, the first exposition of data visualization. Books from 1984 to 1998 introduced versions of the S language, while the two 21st century volumes cover programming and software design using R.
The two books “The New S Language” and “Statistical Models in S” (which became known as the “blue” and “white” books) provided the basis for the R language, as an open-source clone of S.
In May of 1999, the Association for Computing Machinery presented him its Software System Award for the design of the S system. The ACM citation stated that “S has forever altered the way people analyze, visualize, and manipulate data”. This is the only time the award has been made for statistical software (other citations included Unix, TeX, and the World-Wide Web). The money from the award was donated to the American Statistical Association to establish an annual student prize for software.
The University of Waterloo awarded John Chambers an honorary Doctor of Mathematics degree in 2004. The citation for the award began: “John M. Chambers is a name synonymous, worldwide, with statistical computing; his leadership and impact are unequalled.”
Dr. Chambers's professional activities have included being president of the International Association for Statistical Computing and various offices in the ISI, ASA and AAAS. He is a fellow of the ASA, the IMS, and the AAAS, and an elected member of the International Statistical Institute. He is a member of the board of the R Foundation.
At Bell Labs, he served as head of the advanced software department (1981-1983) and the statistics and data analysis research department (1983-1989), before returning to full-time research in 1989.
Dr. Chambers obtained his Ph. D. in statistics in 1966 from Harvard University, after receiving a B. Sc. degree in 1963 from the University of Toronto.
B. Sc. 1963 - University of Toronto, Mathematics
M. A. 1965 - Harvard University, Statistics
Ph.D. 1966 - Harvard University, Statistics
D. Math. 2004 - University of Waterloo (honoris causa)
Bell Labs Fellow 1997- 2005
Distinguished Member of Technical Staff, Bell Laboratories, 1995- 2005
Head, Statistics and Data Analysis Research Dept., Bell Laboratories, 1983-1989
Head, Advanced Software Department, Bell Laboratories, 1981-1983
Member of Technical Staff, Bell Laboratories, 1966- 2005
Visiting Lecturer, Mathematics Department, Imperial College, 1966-1967
Member, British Working Party on Stat. Computing, 1966-1968
Advisory Committee on Computing, National Assessment of Educational Progress, 1969-1971
Secretary, Committee on Stat. Comp., Amer. Stat. Assoc., 1969-1972
Associate Editor, J. Amer. Stat. Ass., 1971-1974
Chairman, Stat. Comp. Section, Amer. Stat. Ass., 1973
Council Representative, Stat. Comp. Section, Amer. Stat. Assoc., 1975-1976
Fellow, American Statistical Association
Liaison Officer, AAAS-ACM, Section U, 1979
Member of Council, Int. Ass. for Stat. Comp., 1980-1982
Member, International Statistical Institute
Program Chairman, ISI Meeting, Statistical Computing, 1981
Vice President, International Assoc. for Stat. Comp., 1983-1987
Board of Directors, Amer. Stat. Assoc., 1986-87
President, International Assoc. for Stat. Comp., 1989-1991.
Fellow, American Assoc. for the Advancement of Science
Neyman Lecturer, Inst. for Math. Statist., 1998
Fellow, Institute for Mathematical Statistics