2016 Yale Science & Engineering Association Award for Distinguished Service to Industry, Commerce or Education

Professor Edward R. Tufte ’68 Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Statistics, and Computer Science

Professor Edward Tufte earned a B.S. and M.S. in Statistics from Stanford and his Ph.D. in Political Science from Yale. He then went on to Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School, where he taught courses in political economy and data analysis. He joined the Yale faculty in 1977 and became Professor of Political Science, Statistics, and Computer Science, as well as the Senior Critic in the School of Art.

While at Princeton, Professor Tufte and colleague John Tukey created a set of course materials that ultimately became the first of several books that form the foundation of  the modern field of Information Design. The quartet Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Envisioning Information, Visual Explanations and Beautiful Evidence can be found on the desks and bookshelves of people in such diverse fields as data analytics, statistics, psychology, manufacturing, human interface design, and politics. His concepts for creating simple, digestible, meaningful and impactful images to represent complex mathematical and statistical ideas fundamentally changed how the world consumes data.

While mathematical at its core, Professor Tufte’s data visualizations rely on a highly evolved aesthetic sensibility. An accomplished artist and sculptor, he has exhibited in galleries in Connecticut and New York, and he maintains a sculpture garden on his property in Woodbury, Connecticut.

In the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008, President Barack Obama appointed Professor Tufte to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s Recovery Independent Advisory Panel “to provide transparency in the use of Recovery-related funds.” Who better to help explain and visualize one of the world’s most complex financial tangles than Professor Tufte.

His techniques that make accessible the inaccessible have transformed how we display and consume complex information. For his gifts to society of Data Visualization and Information Design, we are proud to honor Professor Edward Tufte as the 2016 recipient of the Yale Science & Engineering Association Award for Distinguished Service to Industry, Commerce or Education.


The Yale Science & Engineering Association, Inc.

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