John Tukey

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In existographies, John Tukey (40 BE-45 AE) (1915-2000 ACM) (IQ:180|#168) (ID:2.12|85) (PR:30,618|65AE / chemist:372) (FET:15) (CR:20) (LH:3) (TL:23) was an American chemist, mathematician, computer scientist, and philosopher, aka "grandfather of data science" (Garrison, 2021), noted for his his 1966 Gibbs energy theory of "attitude states", and for his 1973 coining of the term "bit".


In 1966, Tukey developed a chemical thermodynamics based model of "attitude change", based on the theory of absolute reaction rates, wherein each state of a chemical entity is characterized by a "free energy level", and each boundary between states by a free energy level that is higher than the levels of the state it separates; the theory was told to chemical engineer turned sociologist James Coleman who in 1971 published an abstract of it.


Quotes | On

The following are quotes on Tukey:

“The choice of a logarithmic base corresponds to the choice of a unit for measuring information. If the base 2 is used the resulting units may be called ‘binary digits’, or more briefly ‘bits’, a word suggested by John Tukey.”
Claude Shannon (1948), “A Mathematical Theory of Communication” (pg. #)
“Stu you are no John Tukey.”
— Princeton Dean (1961), “Conversation with Stuart Hunter, about obtaining a split professor and industry appointment”[1]

Quotes | By

The following are quotes by Tukey:

“Modern information theory allows us to verify the old maxim that "a picture is worth a thousand words". A thousand words of connected English, at 6 characters (5 letters and space) per word, and 1 bit per character (approximately the best current overall estimate, allowing for redundancy) [15,35], amounts to 6,000 bits of information, equivalent to a choice among 26000 equally probable patterns.”
— John Tukey (1961), “The Science of Statistical and Quantitative methodology” (pg. 172)[2]

End matter


  1. Hunter, Stuart. (2013). “Stu Hunter: Recollections of John Tukey” (YT), JMP Software From SAS, Jun 5.
  2. Tukey, John. (1961). “The Science of Statistical and Quantitative Methodology” (pg. #); in: The Collected Works of John W. Tukey: Philosophy and Principles of Data Analysis 1949-1964, Volume 3 (editor: L.V. Jones) (§7:143-86, pg. 172). Publisher.

Further reading

  • Brillinger, David. (2001). “John W. Tukey: the Life and Professional Contributions” (pdf), The Annals of Statistics.


  • Tukey, John. (1973). “Discussion on Prim9” (YT), S. Mason Garrison, 2021.

External links

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