David Harold Blackwell: A Brief Biography

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David Harold Blackwell was born on April 24, 1919, to a working-class family in Centralia, Illinois. His parents were Grover Blackwell and Mabel Johnson and David was the oldest of their four children. Grover Blackwell worked for the Illinois Central Railroad and his job consisted of looking after the locomotives while Mabel looked after the family bringing up David, his two brothers and one sister. Growing up in an integrated community, Blackwell attended “mixed” schools, where he distinguished himself in mathematics. During elementary school, his teachers promoted him beyond his grade level on two occasions. He discovered his passion for math in a high school geometry course. He had a mixed reaction to mathematics at school. Algebra and trigonometry…show more content…
students, wrote two books and published more than 80 papers during his career. He held 12 honorary degrees, including from Harvard, Yale, Carnegie Mellon and Howard universities and from the National University of Lesotho. Blackwell died in Berkeley, California on July 8, 2010 at the age of 91. Blackwell is survived by four of his eight children: Hugo of Berkeley; Ann Blackwell and Vera Gleason of Oakland; and Sarah Hunt of Houston, Texas. He was preceded in death by his wife, Ann Madison Blackwell, who died in 2006 after 62 years of marriage; and children Julia Madison Blackwell, David Harold Blackwell Jr., Grover Johnson Blackwell and Ruth Blackwell Herch. David Blackwell had became to be an mathematician and statistician, was the first African American to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences (1965) and is especially known for his contributions to the theory of duels. Blackwell was also a pioneer in textbook writing and game theory. Blackwell wrote one of the first Bayesian (relating to or denoting statistical methods based on Bayes' theorem) textbooks, his 1969 Basic Statistics. Blackwell was also a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity (Tau chapter – University of Illinois at
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