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Professor David Firth, WDSI Director

David Firth FBA
MA (Cambridge), MSc, DIC, PhD (London)

Professor of Statistics, University of Warwick and the Alan Turing Institute

David Firth came to Warwick in 2003 from Oxford, where he was Professor of Social Statistics. Before that he held academic positions at Imperial College London, at the University of Texas at Austin, and at the University of Southampton. He works on statistical theory, methods and computation, and applications in many disciplines, especially social-science and biostatistical applications.

David is Director of the Warwick Data Science Institute, and is in the management teams of the Leverhulme 'Bridges' Doctoral Scholarships Programme and the Warwick/EPSRC Centre for Research in Statistical Methodology (CRiSM). He also represents the Royal Statistical Society in the Methodology Advisory Committee of the UK's Government Statistical Service. Other activities have included co-directorship of the EPSRC Academy for Ph.D Training in Statistics, chairing the Research Section of the Royal Statistical Society, and membership of the ESRC Research Grants Board. David is a former Editor of the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society (Series B, Statistical Methodology), and has served as Associate Editor of several other prominent journals including Biometrika and Biostatistics. In 2008 he was elected a Fellow of the British Academy. In 2012 he was awarded the Guy Medal in Silver.

In 2014 he completed a 3-year term as Head of the Department of Statistics.

Current research topics:

  • inference and computation for generalized nonlinear models (with Heather Turner and Ioannis Kosmidis);
  • inference and computation for complex random-effects models (with Cristiano Varin and Heather Turner);
  • models of competition and the analysis of pair-comparison data (with Manuela Cattelan, Cristiano Varin and Heather Turner);
  • penalized likelihood methods, especially for modelling discrete data (with Ioannis Kosmidis).

Some recent publications:

Varin, C, Cattelan, M and Firth, D (2016). Statistical modelling of citation exchange between statistics journals (with discussion). Journal of the Royal Statistical Society A 179, 1-63. This paper appeared originally at The zip archive of supplementary material (0.4MB) contains documented data and R-code for the analyses. The paper was read at the Royal Statistical Society on 13 May 2015, ahead of publication (with discussion) in J Roy Stat Soc A.

Cattelan, M, Varin, C and Firth, D (2013). Dynamic Bradley-Terry modelling of sports tournaments. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society C 62, 135–150.

Turner, H and Firth, D (2012). Bradley-Terry Models in R: The BradleyTerry2 Package. Journal of Statistical Software 48(9), 1–21.

Firth, D (2011). On improved estimation for importance sampling. Brazilian Journal of Probability and Statistics 25, 437–443. (PDF download PDF file)

Kosmidis, I and Firth, D (2011). Multinomial logit bias reduction via the Poisson log-linear model. Biometrika 98, 755–759. (Preprint available as CRiSM research report 10-18)

Varin, C, Reid, N and Firth, D (2011). An overview of composite likelihood methods. Statistica Sinica 21, 5–42. (Preprint available as CRiSM research report 09-45)

Kuha, J and Firth, D (2011). On the index of dissimilarity for lack of fit in log-linear and log-multiplicative models. Computational Statistics and Data Analysis 55, 375–388.

Kosmidis, I and Firth, D (2010). A generic algorithm for reducing bias in parametric estimation. Electronic Journal of Statistics 4, 1097–1112

Kosmidis, I and Firth, D (2009). Bias reduction in exponential family nonlinear models. Biometrika 96, 793–804.

Curtice, J and Firth, D (2008). Exit polling in a cold climate: The BBC/ITV experience in Britain in 2005 (with discussion). Journal of the Royal Statistical Society A, 171, 509–539.

Sergeant, J C and Firth, D (2006). Relative index of inequality: Definition, estimation and inference. Biostatistics 7, 213–224.

Whiting, M J, Stuart-Fox, D M, O'Connor, D, Firth, D, Bennett, N C and Blomberg, S P (2006). Ultraviolet signals ultra-aggression in a lizard. Animal Behaviour 72, 353–363.

Stuart-Fox, D M, Firth, D, Moussalli, A and Whiting, M J (2006). Multiple signals in chameleon contests: designing and analysing animal contests as a tournament. Animal Behaviour 71, 1263–1271.

Firth, D (2005). Some Topics in Social Statistics. In Celebrating Statistics: Papers in Honour of Sir David Cox on his 80th Birthday (eds. A C Davison, Y Dodge, N Wermuth). OUP.

Firth, D. and Menezes, R. X. de (2004). Quasi-variances. Biometrika 91, 65–80.

Firth, D. (2003). Overcoming the reference category problem in the presentation of statistical models. Sociological Methodology 33, 1–18.

Firth, D. (2003). CGIwithR: Facilities for processing web forms using R. Journal of Statistical Software 8(10), 1–8.

Wolfe, R. and Firth, D. (2002). Modelling subjective use of an ordinal response scale in a many period crossover experiment. Applied Statistics 51, 245–255.

Prof Firth
  • Appointments with tutees: Monday 2 Oct and Thursday 5 Oct 2017 (afternoons in week 1 of term). Normal office hours (Term 1 2017–18, starting Mon 9 Oct): Monday 1030–1130, Wednesday 1530–1630.
Election exit polls
David's research work is behind the accurate exit-poll predictions that have been made at the last five UK general elections (in 2001, 2005, 2010, 2015 and 2017). For more details see exit polling explained.
Far-reaching statistical theory!
What connects all these: nuclear weapons, rattlesnakes, coral, pneumonia, cancer, basketball?

Contact details:

Email: d dot firth at warwick dot ac dot uk
Voice: 44 (0)247 657 4855
PGP public key: df-key.txt

Postal address:
  Professor D Firth
Dept of Statistics
University of Warwick
Coventry, CV4 7AL
United Kingdom

Office location: D0.03, Zeeman building

Normal office hours: (Term 1 2017–18, starting Mon 9 Oct): Monday 1030–1130, Wednesday 1530–1630.

Zeeman building in October