Professor Bernard Silverman FRS


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Bernard Silverman’s undergraduate education was in Mathematics (Cambridge BA 1973, MMath 1974) and his postgraduate education and research (Cambridge PhD 1978) in Statistics.   He has held senior academic posts at Bath, Bristol and Oxford, and has spent a substantial amount of time as a visitor at Stanford and various other universities in the USA and worldwide.     


His current full-time post as Home Office Chief Scientific Adviser has several aspects: the provision of independent scientific advice to the Home Secretary and other Home Office ministers and policy officials on the whole range of topics relevant to Home Office business; the leadership and management of Home Office Science, which includes the Home Office Centre for Applied Science and Technology (formerly Home Office Scientific Development Branch); Home Office Statistics; the Animals in Science Regulation Unit; and teams of social researchers, economists and operational researchers supporting Home Office policy and operations in Crime and Policing, Migration and Counter-Terrorism; support for and sponsorship of six independent scientific advisory committees, including the Advisory Committee on the Misuse of Drugs and the Poisons Board; participation in the cross-government network of Chief Scientific Advisers chaired by the Government Chief Scientific Adviser; and international collaboration in scientific matters relevant to Home Office business, particularly with the US Department of Homeland Security.


Silverman is a highly cited researcher whose published work is centred on computational statistics, the understanding of new statistical methods made possible and necessary by constant increases in computational power.     In addition, his work has ranged widely across theoretical and practical aspects of statistics, and Silverman has collaborated with researchers in many areas of medicine, social science, and the life and physical sciences.  His most recent collaborative work has been in the neuroscience of hearing and in human genetics.   His research has been recognised by premier awards both in the UK and the USA.    He is a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) and was recently a member of the Royal Society’s Council.   He is a Past President of the Royal Statistical Society and of the (US-based) Institute of Mathematical Statistics and has served as Chair of the United Kingdom Mathematics Trust (UKMT) and the Joint Mathematical Council of the United Kingdom


Before taking up his current post in April 2010, Silverman’s work for government included membership of the GM Science Review Panel, a non-executive directorship of the Defence Analytical Services Agency, and chairmanship of a review panel for the project for the Sustainable Development of Heathrow.   He has a substantial and broad record of providing statistical consultancy advice in many areas of industry and commerce as well as in financial and legal contexts.    



Current external roles

My current external roles include:



Academic affiliations

I have a number of honorary academic affiliations: with the Departments of Statistics at Oxford University and at the London School of Economics;  with  the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, the Oxford-Man Institute of Quantitative Finance and the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment; and with Green Templeton College, Oxford.  I am an Honorary Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge and of St Chad’s College, Durham, and was Master of St Peter’s College, Oxford, from 2003 to 2009. 


Research and consultancy

My research has covered computational, applied and theoretical statistics, as well as a wide range of subjects in the physical, biological, social and medical sciences.  The main emphasis of my core statistical research has been on practical and theoretical aspects of curve fitting, spatial statistics, nonparametric function estimation, and the analysis of functional data (data which are in the forms of curves, images or surfaces).  Particular recent examples of my research include functional data analysis in neuroscience; wavelet and empirical Bayes methods in genomics research; and the multiresolution analysis of function and image deformations.   I am the author of four books in the general area of computational statistics: Density Estimation for Statistics and Data Analysis (1986);  Nonparametric Regression and Generalized Linear Models: A Roughness Penalty Approach (with Peter J. Green, 1994);  Functional Data Analysis (with James O. Ramsay, 1997; second edition 2005);  Applied Functional Data Analysis: Methods and Case Studies (with James O. Ramsay, 2002).   See my CV for a full list of scientific publications and other reports.


My consultancy work has covered calculator and computer design, finance, nuclear power, instrumentation, aerospace, oil exploration, advertising, and railway signalling, and has included statistical advice in legal cases (especially financial and forensic), and to the press and the police.