Vanamamalai Seshadri, Professor Emeritus of Statistics at McGill University, died peacefully at his daughter’s home on March 8, 2020, in Sunnyvale, California. He was 91 years old. Sesh, as he was informally called, was born on April 25, 1928, in Kizhanatham, India. After studying mathematics at Loyola College in Madras, he taught in Sri Lanka and Myanmar before moving to the United States to pursue doctoral studies in mathematical statistics at Oklahoma State University, under the supervision of the eminent statistician Franklin Graybill, finishing in 1961. He then moved his family to Montréal, where he began his career at McGill. He was tenured in 1964 and became a Full Professor in 1970. He retired in 1997.

Sesh’s research specialization was distribution theory. His name is permanently associated with the inverse Gaussian distribution, the long and fruitful study of which he began in 1981. His two masterly expositions of the topic, published by Oxford University Press and Springer respectively, are still the go-to references on the subject. Sesh’s research contributions covered a much wider spectrum, however, covering estimation problems and multivariate analysis, as well as touching on questions of probability theory. While at McGill, Sesh authored over 50 research articles, many of which appeared in journals of the highest caliber such as The Annals of Statistics, the Journal of the American Statistical Association, and Biometrics, supervising a good number of graduate students, three of whom went on to join the faculty of McGill.

Within the Mathematics and Statistics Department at McGill, Sesh was known as an incurable traveler. His reputation and his enthusiastic talks, delivered in English and French, earned him invitations from around the world and fed his wanderlust. In his retirement, he spent many years teaching at prestigious universities all over the world as Professor Emeritus, enjoying bridge games with his friends and spending time with his dear departed wife, Champa Seshadri. Sesh is survived by his sister Leelavathi Seshadri, his children Srinivasan Seshadri and Usha Seshadri, and his seven grandchildren. We are all the poorer for his departure but the discipline of statistics is richer for his exceptional research contributions. The Department of Mathematics and Statistics expresses its deepest sympathies to his family for their loss.

Co-written by Christian Genest (Professor) and David Wolfson (Professor Emeritus), Department of Mathematics and Statistics.

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