Hello everyone. My name is David Brillinger and I was a colleague of Luciens. I would like to begin by acknowledging how incredibly helpful Lucien and his family have been to me and my family. I turned to Lucien the day I was in incredible pain, perhaps from a gall stone. Lucien drove me directly to Alta Bates Emergency Room and comforted me. On another occasion Luciens daughter, Linda, wrote my son a letter when he fell ill. She started with the words: "I have had some tumor problems too." and enclosed some games for Jef. Thank you isnt a strong enough expression for such caring and assistance.
I knew Lucien best in the Department Coffee Room. This came to be his domain, or perhaps I should say his locally convex vector space. I have had lunch there 2 to 3 times most weeks since 1970. Lucien was invariably present. When I first came to Berkeley, Elizabeth Scott, Jerzy Neyman and Lucien lead the roundtable. We saw an ever varying collection of students, visitors and faculty. After the deaths of Betty and Professor Neyman, Lucien remained everpresent til the day before he died. The topics then ranged from raccoons and priests to cloud seeding and cancer genesis.
Lucien told many lunchtime stories. One I liked particularly concerned the Liberation of Paris in 1944. Lucien described dancing with the movie star Simone Signoret at the Place de la Concorde. What a wonderful image. I started thinking that maybe he had said Jeanne Morreau. Anyway, being an academic, I went over to the Main Library to do some research. I found 6 or 7 books about Signoret. In each I read about the year 1944. In the last I picked up, "Nostalgia Isn't What it Used to Be", I found some pertinent material. Signoret had gone up to the north of France for D-Day. After D-day, bored she hitchhiked back to Paris for the Liberation. At the time she was quite pregnant and mentions sticking her stomach even farther out to increase the chances of getting a ride. When I read that, this little Signoret anecdote seemed to be slipping away for Lucien had never said anything about pregnancy. But, and sadly, I read on to find that the baby died before the Liberation, so that image of Lucien and Simone Signoret dancing remains.
Another day in the Coffee Room Lucien arrived in an unhappy state. I dont know what the specific problem was, but he was wearing a necktie. Lucien kept one of these in his office for occasions of going to see some dean. What Lucien said was: "I have been to see the Dean and rules are meant to help not to hinder." I guess that the dean hadnt learned this, yet, but Lucien surely knew.
Another day Lucien left me a note. It read: "Dear David, This is to remind you of your presidential days. Lucien" Attached to the note was a calendar page listing Harrison's Postulate: "For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism." The story is that in 1995 I was IMS President and the annual meeting was in Montreal. Lucien was keen to attend, but had difficulties making a reservation at the meeting hotel. Frustrated he emailed the IMS Business Office that the President was not doing a proper job. Having been an officer in the Canadian Navy I had no difficulty with the idea of having to accept the responsibility, but just the same headed down to see Lucien. He told me what had happened, we laughed and the next day I found the note.
On yet another occasion, when I was Editor of the ISI Review, I got Lucien to submit a paper on the difficulties of maximum likelihood estimation. He was known to be a strong critic of the method. Anyway part of my fun with the Review had been preparing the french summaries of the papers and luckily Lucien didnt seem to mind correcting my french at lunchtime. However as time passed I developed a suspicion that no one was paying any attention to these Resumes. To test this hypothesis Lucien wrote his Resume in Zazie Dans le Metro type french to see if that at least produced a reaction. So far none has arrived.
In the maximum likelihood article may be found Le Cams Basic Principle 0. "Do not trust any principle." Indeed! In his paper there are 8 other principles. One of those is: "If you need to use asymptotic arguments, do not forget to let your number of observations tend to infinity." Touche!
Jerzy Neyman, the Statistics Departments founder, was Lucien's mentor and great admirer. He expected Lucien to receive many awards and dearly wished Lucien to follow him as Director of the Statistical Laboratory. When Professor Neyman was away Lucien typically chaired his Seminar. On the day that Neyman died Lucien opened with the words, "The Seminar will go on.", and it did. Lucien took it over. Lucien had a special style in chairing the seminar. He would let everyone in the audience who had questions ask them and then at the very end he would say something like: "I have one small question." That question would go right to the heart of the matter, there would be further discussion, and then we would go to the Faculty Club for drinks and Professor Neyman's three toasts. It was all quite magical.
Lucien Le Cam was indeed a man of principles and we are privileged to have had him as part of our lives.
Louise, thank you for inviting me to say some words. It is a great honor.
David R. Brillinger