Robin L. Plackett
Born(1920-09-03)3 September 1920
United Kingdom
Died23 June 2009(2009-06-23) (aged 88)
Known forPlackett–Burman designs
SpouseCarol Plackett
AwardsGuy Medal (bronze, 1968) (silver, 1973) (gold, 1987)
Scientific career
InstitutionsNewcastle University

Robin L. Plackett (3 September 1920 – 23 June 2009[1]) was a statistician best known for his contributions to the history of statistics and to experimental design, most notably the Plackett–Burman designs.

Early life and education

Plackett attended Liverpool Collegiate School from 1932 to 1939. He then attended Clare College, Cambridge, where he graduated in 1942.[2]

Early career

During World War II, Plackett was requested to work for the Ministry of Supply, in SR17 which was a statistical branch. He began to develop a methodology for applying statistical knowledge, and would pass it down to new recruits.[2]

First scientific paper

In 1946, he would publish his first paper which was written jointly with Peter Burman in an journal called Biometrika. The paper, titled "The design of optimum multifactorial experiments", introduced Plackett–Burman experimental designs.[2][3]

Academic career

In 1947, he became a lecturer at Liverpool University. He would also publish research on the history of statistics. Then, in 1962, he took a short post for the Professor of Statistics at King's College, Durham before the college merged with Newcastle University in 1963.[2]

He was the first professor of statistics at Newcastle University and held the post until his retirement in 1983.[4] In 1987 the Royal Statistical Society awarded him the Guy Medal in Gold, having awarded him both the bronze and silver medals earlier in his career.[2]

He authored several books on statistics, including Principles of Regression Analysis (1960), The Analysis of Categorical Data (1974) and An Introduction to the Interpretation of Quantal Responses in Biology (1979, with P. S. Hewlett).[2]

Personal life

Plackett had a keen interest in climbing. He was married to his wife, Carol, for 65 years. He also had three children: Adam, Jane and Martin.[2]


  1. ^ "Births, marriages and deaths: Robin Plackett". The Times. 2009-06-27. Retrieved 2010-01-05.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Obituaries". Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series A. 173 (1): 259–267. 2010. doi:10.1111/j.1467-985X.2009.00623.x. ISSN 1467-985X. S2CID 247665053.
  3. ^ PLACKETT, R. L.; BURMAN, J. P. (1946). "The Design of Optimum Multifactorial Experiments". Biometrika. 33 (4): 305–325. doi:10.1093/biomet/33.4.305. ISSN 0006-3444.
  4. ^ Coleman, Shirley (October–November 2005). "Facing the future with confidence" (PDF). Enbis: 39.

Further reading