David Eaves, 1934-2014
David Eaves, a charter member of Simon Fraser University, and long time member first of the Department of Mathematics and then of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics passed away on August 4/2014 at 80 years of age. He is survived by his wife Linda, their children Elisabeth and Gregory, and by Jennifer and Dave, his children from his first marriage.
David was born in Queens, New York. He studied biochemistry at MIT, receiving his BSc there before joining the United States Navy. He served in the navy from 1957 to 1960. During that time he learned to speak excellent Russian, already having considerable skill in Latin and Spanish from his high school years.
After the navy David returned to school, completing his MSc and PhD at the University of Washington. His PhD thesis "Prediction theory over discrete Abelian groups" was written under the supervision of Ramesh Gangolli. He joined SFU for its opening in 1965, finishing his PhD a year later. David was therefore one of the original four members of the Department of Mathematics: Ronald Harrop (the department head), Edward Shoemaker, Allen Freedman, and David.
David's early research was in probability theory. In the 1960s he wrote papers on topics such as sample path properties of Gaussian fields and central limit results for generalized random fields. As time passed, however, David's interests moved from abstract probability theory to applied Bayesian statistics. The arrival at Simon Fraser in 1970 of Cesareo Villegas was a factor in David's changing views.
David wrote papers in the 1970s on isotropic diffusions before his first applied work appeared -- on the threshold hypothesis for flash perception -- with co-author Andy Burr from SFU Biology. By the 1980s David was working on minimally informative priors. He was very interested in non-linear regression and his undergraduate training showed up in his work, for example in his Biometrika paper on non-linear regression applied to an enzyme kinetics example. In the same decade David began a number of other collaborations with SFU Biologists, including a lasting applied statistics collaboration with Andre Levesque, then an SFU PhD student. The 1990s were a productive period for him, collaborating with Ted Chang, Charmaine Dean, and notably Linda Eaves in a well-cited paper where he applied cluster analysis methods to describe autism subtypes.
David retired from Simon Fraser in 1998. After retiring, David followed a dream to design and oversee the building of two "vacation homes" -- one in Baja and one in Oregon. The Baja home used his Spanish and he took advantage of his retirement to study Italian, and then Chinese.
David was a firmly independent thinker, a dedicated follower of financial markets, and a valued colleague and friend. He had many enthusiasms which he followed intensely until a new interest came to take its place. His strong personality and sense of humour were visible to the very end.
We miss him.
Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science
Simon Fraser University