Hans Brøns obituary – University of Copenhagen

09 April 2018

Hans Brøns obituary


Professor Hans Brøns contributed crucially to the establishment of the statistics study programme at the University of Copenhagen and to the development of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, which today forms one of the four sections of the Department of Mathematical Sciences.

Hans Brøns

Hans Brøns, photo from the 1980s.

Hans Brøns graduated as a chemistry engineer. He obtained a master's degree in mathematics and was employed at the UCPH Institute of Mathematical Statistics (KUIMS), founded in 1961 under the Faculty of Natural Sciences. In 25 years he was professor of mathematical statistics.

When the university established the study programme in statistics 1958-1960, it was implemented by Anders Hald and Hans Brøns. Brøns’ main responsibility was part one of the programme (BSc), while Hald taught part two (MSc). The teaching took place mainly in the newly built H.C. Ørsted Institute. Brøns produced a fundamental set of lecture notes in mathematical statistics and probability theory, thus establishing a tradition for a teaching at a high mathematical level – a tradition that continues today.

With only two permanent academic staff members, the staff was supplemented in the first years by a number of highly esteemed foreign researchers who served as guest professors. Gradually, young researchers, educated at KUIMS, joined the department and were strongly encouraged to spend a year at a university abroad - this long before a Danish PhD education had been established.

Hans Brøns

Hans Brøns, photo from his year in Cambridge.

Brøns himself spent longer periods at Cambridge University and Stanford University. In this way, the new department established a number of contacts to strong statistics environments abroad.

Algebraic methods in theoretical statistics, especially applied to the theory of the multi-dimensional normal distribution, were a main theme in Hans Brøns’ research. He inspired and collaborated with some of the younger colleagues and he supervised a large number of master’s and PhD theses in this field.

Together with Anders Hald, Hans Brøns created a university department with a high academic level that enjoys great respect internationally, and with a vivid research environment that is still moving in new directions.

Professor Emeritus Hans Brøns, born 9 November 1929, died 11 March 2018.

Martin Jacobsen and Inge Henningsen