Julian Besag

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Julian Ernst Besag
Born (1945-03-26)26 March 1945
Died 6 August 2010(2010-08-06) (aged 65)
Residence UK, US
Alma mater University of Birmingham
Known for Spatial statistics, image analysis, Markov random fields & MCMC
Awards Guy Medal (Silver, 1983)
Fellow of the Royal Society (2004)
Scientific career
Fields Statistician
Institutions Universities of Oxford, Liverpool, Durham, Newcastle and Washington
Academic advisors M. S. Bartlett[citation needed]

Julian Ernst Besag FRS (26 March 1945 – 6 August 2010) was a British statistician known chiefly for his work in spatial statistics (including its applications to epidemiology, image analysis and agricultural science), and Bayesian inference (including Markov chain Monte Carlo algorithms).


Besag was born in Loughborough and was educated at Loughborough Grammar School. He began studying engineering at the University of Cambridge but moved to the University of Birmingham to study statistics, obtaining his BSc in 1968. He then spent a year as a research assistant to Maurice Bartlett at the University of Oxford before obtaining a lectureship at the University of Liverpool. He moved to the University of Durham in 1975, where he became a professor in 1986. He was a visiting professor at the University of Washington in Seattle during 1989–90 and, after a year at Newcastle University, returned to Seattle long-term. He officially retired in 2007 but remained an emeritus professor. At his death in 2010 he was also a visiting professor at the Universities of Bath and Bristol.

Besag was an ISI highly cited researcher; his 1986 paper "On the Statistical Analysis of Dirty Pictures" was the most cited paper by a UK mathematical scientist in the 1980s. The Royal Statistical Society awarded him its Guy Medal in Silver in 1983 for his contributions to spatial statistics, and he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2004.[1]

Notable publications

  • Besag, J. (1974) "Spatial Interaction and the Statistical Analysis of Lattice Systems", Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series B, 36 (2), 192–236. JSTOR 2984812
  • Besag, J. (1975) "Statistical Analysis of Non-Lattice Data." Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series D, 24(3), 179–195. JSTOR 2987782
  • Besag, J. (1977) "Comments on Ripley's paper." "Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series B", 39(2), 193-195
  • Besag, J.E. (1986) "On the Statistical Analysis of Dirty Pictures," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series B, 48, 259–302. JSTOR 2345426
  • Besag, J.; York, J.; Mollié, A. (1991). "Bayesian image restoration, with two applications in spatial statistics". Annals of the Institute of Statistical Mathematics. 43 (1): 1–20. doi:10.1007/BF00116466.


  • Profile: Julian Besag, FRS. IMS Bulletin Sept/Oct 2004; Vol. 33 No. 5, p13.
  • Prof Julian Besag at Debrett's People of Today
  • Julian Besag - Department of Statistics - University of Washington
  1. ^ Diggle, Peter J.; Green, Peter J.; Silverman, Bernard W. (2018-03-28). "Julian Ernst Besag. 26 March 1945—6 August 2010". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 64: 27–50. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2017.0039. ISSN 0080-4606.

Further reading

External links

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