The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.
Page  162

STATISTICAL RESEARCH LABORATORY

The creation of the Statistical Research Laboratory was approved by the Board of Regents on June 21, 1946. Professor Cecil C. Craig, of the Department of Mathematics, was appointed as Director. The Laboratory was charged by the Regents with the responsibility for providing statistical consultation and services for graduate students and faculty members, for providing facilities for research in statistics, for providing opportunities to graduate students for gaining experience in the conduct of statistical investigations, and for correlating the interests and efforts of members of the faculty engaged in teaching and research in statistics. The Laboratory was opened at the beginning of the academic year 1946-47 in three rooms on the third floor of the Rackham Building and was provided initially with a few automatic desk calculators. Information about the opening of the Laboratory and the nature of its activities was sent to all department heads and to staff members known to be interested in statistics.

During this initial period, a relatively small noncirculating library, designed primarily to make reference materials in theoretical and applied statistics available at the consultation sessions and also to provide basic materials for research, was started and has developed into a very useful asset of the Laboratory.

In 1949 the Laboratory was moved to the basement, 106 Rackham. This move not only provided more adequate space for the previous activities, but it was accompanied by the acquisition of a punch-card section which came to be used extensively by the faculty and graduate students of many University units. The growth of the use of the Laboratory required the expansion of the equipment used for data analysis and computation and particularly for the improvement of the punch-card equipment.

Dean R. A. Sawyer recommended that an IBM 650 unit be rented and placed in the Statistical Research Laboratory to meet the immediate needs of the University for an electronic computing and data-processing machine of medium capacity and speed which would be available to all teaching and research units. Accordingly, the installation of such a unit in an adjacent room (110 Rackham) was made in March and April of 1956, after the room had been equipped for this purpose.

A major activity of the Laboratory, for a three-year Page  163period, was the adaptation of the IBM 650 to University uses. Appropriate introductory lectures were given and courses were introduced in various departments, so that many University units were soon using the machine.

During 1957-58, a major activity of the staff was the participation in and planning for the establishment of a major Computing Center at the University, which was accomplished in the following year. The Laboratory continued with its emphasis on the uses of statistics in research with improved methods of calculation, which now included the use of IBM 704 at the Computing Center. More and more emphasis in the consultations was given to advice regarding selection of suitable programs and the interpretation of the results.

During the following years, the records of the Laboratory show a decreasing use of desk calculators and punch-card machines as the advantages of the electronic equipment became generally known. Many of these machines are no longer present in the Laboratory.

With the cooperation of the Administration and other University units, considerable success has been achieved in adapting the Laboratory to the present day statistical needs of the University.