Prof. Michael Friendly elected as Fellow of the American Statistical Association

York University Professor Michael Friendly has been elected as a Fellow of the American Statistical Association (ASA).

Michael Friendly
Michael Friendly

Friendly, a professor of psychology in the Faculty of Health, is an internationally renowned leader in the development of graphical methods for statistics and their application and dissemination. His nominator for the Fellow appointment said Friendly has been a “major contributor to, and arguably the world leader in, the history of data visualization.”

“I have had the good fortune in my time at York to work with a number of students and colleagues in the Psychology Department and the Statistical Consulting Service in rewarding collaborations on work in the development of graphical methods,” said Friendly. “As a quantitative psychologist, my orientation has been more to statistical methods, data visualization and its history, so election as a Fellow of the American Statistical Association is among the highest honours I aspired to.”

He was selected as a Fellow by the ASA for outstanding contributions to the development of statistical graphics in methods for categorical data and multivariate models, their application and dissemination; for outstanding contributions to the study of the history of data visualization in historical research papers and web presentations of history; and for service to the ASA in editorial work.

In his work on the history of data visualization, Friendly also founded an international group of scholars, Les Chevaliers des Albums de Statistique Graphique.

“It’s so gratifying to see Professor Friendly recognized for his lifetime of contributions to qualitative psychology and statistics,” said Faculty of Health Dean Paul McDonald. “Michael has created a legacy of excellence through his innovative research, teaching, graduate supervision and generous record of collaboration. He has advanced the field and challenged others to do likewise. Professor Friendly is truly worthy of this significant honour.”

Joel Goldberg, chair and associate professor of the Department of Psychology, said, “Professor Friendly has taken seriously the credo ‘seeing is believing’ and translated this into a lifetime of contributions that help us better visualize statistical findings. His fascinating and insightful gaze into the history of data visualization has literally made it possible for the scientific work of others to be seen more intelligibly and has helped guide generations of our students.”

Georges Monette, associate professor, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Faculty of Science, said Friendly has found, through his work on the history of graphics and visualization, inspiration to guide the field on its path to the future.

“Thanks to him, 200-year-old statistical ideas have been brought to light and are helping to develop one of the very important and rapidly growing fields in data science,” he said.

Friendly is the author of SAS for Statistical Graphics, 1st Edition and Visualizing Categorical Data, both published by SAS Institute, and most recently, Discrete Data Analysis with R: Visualization and Modeling Techniques for Categorical and Count Data, Chapman & Hall. His current book project, with the working title The Origin of Graphical Species, is currently under contract with Harvard University Press. He has been an associate editor for the Journal of Computational and Graphical Statistics since 1998, and also of the IMS Journal Statistical Science since 2007.

He has served as the chair of the Statistical Graphics Section of the ASA (2016).

Friendly is also founding chair of the Graduate Program in Quantitative Methods at York, and an associate coordinator with the Statistical Consulting Service. He served as statistical consultant to the Toronto Star in a series of investigative reporting, data journalism cases (“Race and Crime,” December 2002; “Race Matters: Carding and Racial Profiling,” February 2010). This work resulted in changes to the charging practices of line police officers on discretionary charges and enhanced scrutiny of the differential “carding” of young black males, resulting in reforms in police practice.

He received his doctorate in psychology from Princeton University, specializing in psychometrics and cognitive psychology.

There will be a ceremony on Tuesday, July 31 at the Vancouver Convention Centre during the Joint Statistical Meetings to welcome the new Fellows of the ASA.