retired Prof. DDr. Fred Bookstein


Fred L. BOOKSTEIN's special interests center on foundations of reasoning from numerical evidence across the natural sciences and the social sciences, with particular care for the disciplines along which they overlap such as anthropology, demography, and evolutionary psychology. His training (Ph.D., 1977, University of Michigan, Statistics and Zoology) concentrated on applied multivariate methods for the human sciences, both biological and behavioral. Among his contributions in this broad area are the Bookstein method of Partial Least Squares, which is a variant of the singular-value decomposition suited to studies in the behavioral sciences, and the Bookstein shape coordinates, which formalize certain problems of biological shape analysis (a highly multivariate domain) in a statistically tractable way.

Among Bookstein's approximately 360 scientific publications are many on analysis of complex data resources in general and many others on the domains of biological shape analysis and medical image analysis in particular. Several recent publications with his Vienna group cover aspects of human reproductive choice behavior as expressed in census data, including analyses of age differences between mates and the paradoxical effects of education and income between spouses in recent United States census childrearing patterns. Others deal with aspects of craniofacial, craniodental, or limb form in humans, apes, or fossils. Recent publications on his American side deal mainly with fetal alcohol syndrome, a relatively recently discovered birth defect. Other areas of special interest include the role of statistical graphics in the communication of complex multilevel findings and the role of strong statistical inference (pattern analyses going beyond ordinary statistical significance testing) in the analysis of multivariate longitudinal human data. He is currently writing his seventh book, "Numbers and Reasons: Numerical Inference in the Sciences," on how numbers guide sound inferences in the natural sciences and the social sciences. His Hirsh number (the maximum number N such that at least N of his papers have been cited at least N times) is, as of 3/10/2010, 53.

Some current and recent projects and activities:

  • "Virtual Anthropology", joint with G. W. Weber, a textbook in press introducing concepts of anthropometrics from computer representations of living or fossil organisms or their parts.
  • The EVAN Toolkit, joint with P. Ohiggins and R. Phillips, a software package for handling data flows generated by the surfaces or solid forms of living or fossil organisms and their statistical analysis.
  • Grant proposals under review in comparative demography, networking of advanced biometric statistics across Europe, extensions of the method of transformation grids for understanding biological form change, Brownian motion models for analysis of evolutionary trees on morphometric data, and applications of evolutionary psychology to German poetry of the Middle Ages.
  • Expert testimony in the American court system as to certain aspects of brain form and its causes and effects, various jurisdictions.

Websites: