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2012-Gad Nathan


Gad Nathan, a distinguished professor in survey sampling, passed away in July 2012. Gad was born in Jerusalem in 1935, but spent much of his childhood in the U.K. He finished first and second degrees cum laude in Mathematics, Physics and Statistics at the Hebrew University, and later studied for his PhD at the Case Institute of Technology in Cleveland, U.S.A., again completing his degree cum laude.


Over the years, Gad established himself as one of the pioneering and leading survey statisticians and his contributions to the theory and practice of survey sampling have won him broad international recognition and acclaim. His scientific contributions can be classified broadly into four categories:


  • Contributions to the theory and application of analytical inference from complex  samples such as tests of independence in contingency tables and modification of regression and longitudinal data analysis techniques.
  • Development of new sampling methods like the discerning use of telephones and
    computers and the operation of duplicate surveys.
  • Analysis and corrections of non-sampling errors such as response errors and non-response.
  • Intelligent structuring of questionnaires such as the examination of cognitive aspects of questionnaire building and the treatment of sensitive questions.


Throughout his long career, Gad always combined theoretical research with practice, mostly through his long service at the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics where he started as Director of the Statistical Methods Division and ended as Chief Scientist. Among his outstanding contributions to the work of the CBS, of special significance is the automation of the CBS survey operations, spreading over all stages of the data processing, starting with data capture and coding and ending with the production of the published estimates. Inaddition, Gad has supervised many of the population censuses that have been carried out in Israel with many methodological contributions, including the conception of the last census that integrated for the first time administrative records with small area estimation.


Gad has always been very active in the statistical community of Israel and abroad. He served twice as Head of the Statistics Department at the Hebrew University, was President of the Israel Statistical Society and chaired the Israel Public Council of Statistics. Gad was a very active member of the ISI where he served as Vice-President, and of the IASS, serving as Vice-President and as member of the programme committee in four different periods. The highlight of his activities for the IASS was chairing the international committee that selected the “landmark papers in survey statistics”, contained in the Jubilee Commemorative Volume produced by the lASS. Gad was also the first recipient of the Waksberg Award for outstanding contributions to survey methodology.


Gad never confined his interests to the world of statistics, rich as it is. He was a true intellectual with deep interest and knowledge in many areas that shape our culture. He travelled all over the world and needed only two or three days to find out all that was going on in the new countries that he visited in music, theatre, films, exhibitions and no less important, hiking and cycling journeys. This was all before Google told us everything on what to do and where to go. In fact, in the last week before he died, Gad saw an exhibition and two plays with his beloved grandchildren, and attended the premier of a musical piece composed by a friend.


Gad’s memory will always stay with us. He is survived by his wife, Batia, his daughter, Idit and his two grandchildren. A memorial session in his honour will be held at the next ISI World Statistics Congress in Hong Kong.


Danny Pfeffermann