[R] Fritz Leisch 1968-2024

Martyn Plummer m@rtyn@p|ummer @end|ng |rom gm@||@com
Fri Apr 26 10:40:16 CEST 2024

We are deeply saddened to announce that our friend and colleague Friedrich
(Fritz) Leisch has died.

Fritz obtained his Masters and Doctorate from the Vienna University of
Technology (TU Wien). In 1994, he joined the Department of Statistics and
Probability Theory at TU Wien as an assistant professor. He moved to the
University of Munich (LMU  München) in 2006 as a professor for
Computational Statistics in the Institute of Statistics, becoming head of
department in 2010. He returned to Vienna in 2011 to join the University of
Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) as head of the Institute of
Applied Statistics and Computing.

Fritz’s contributions to statistical computing began in the early days of
the R project when he was a pioneer of many important innovations. He was
among the first developers who joined Ross Ihaka and Robert Gentleman to
form the R Core Development Team in 1997. He co-founded the Comprehensive R
Archive Network (CRAN) with Kurt Hornik, and developed much of the R
package management system. He was a founding member of the editorial board
of R News, which later evolved into The R Journal, and was the first
Secretary General of the R Foundation for Statistical Computing when it was
formed in 2003. Together with Kurt Hornik, Fritz organized the inaugural
workshop on “Distributed Statistical Computing” (DSC) in Vienna in March
1999, which brought the R Core Team together for its first face-to-face
meeting. Two further DSC conferences were held in 2001 and 2003, followed
by the first useR! conference in 2004. These meetings did much to make
Vienna the spiritual home of R.

Fritz was the first to apply literate programming concepts to the R
language by developing the Sweave system that combines R and LaTeX in a
single document. This introduced reproducible research to the R language
and allowed the first package vignettes to be created, greatly enhancing
the quality of R package documentation.

In addition to his contributions to the R project, Fritz’s research
interests covered many areas including statistical computing, market
segmentation, biostatistics, econometrics, classification, cluster
analysis, time series analysis, software development and statistical
applications in economics, management science and biomedical research. He
taught generations of students at bachelor, master, and PhD level and
introduced hundreds of useRs to proper R development in his "Introduction
to R  Programming" short course.

The R Core Team and the R community at large will miss a contributor,
collaborator, teacher, colleague, and friend.

Martyn Plummer
on behalf of the R Foundation

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