Family & early life
Oxford & Liverpool
Durham & Newcastle
Memorial gathering and symposium
Abstracts of talks (pdf)
Dear Julian, thank you for your stimulating and thought-provoking talks, for our exchanges on art and Shakespeare, for confiding your troubles with me, for your humour and for your temper. You will be missed.
Elja Arjas (Helsinki)
I only learned today about Julian's death. It was a great loss to all of us. But I am happy about having had the opportunity to meet Julian many times during my stay in Bristol, and talking with him about things such as the future of our discipline, and of the world. Julian may well have been right about the former, but I sincerely hope he wasn't about the latter.
Ian Dryden (South Carolina)
I was very sorry to hear the news about Julian. He was extremely creative and influential, making many pathbreaking discoveries. He was a great innovator in spatial statistics, statistical image analysis and Bayesian statistics. I do think he was way ahead of his time.
Ashley Ford (Warwick)
I was sad to read of the death of Julian but privileged to hear what was presumably his last talk at the Statworks workshop. It is particularly unfortunate that he missed seeing a reference to his 1974 paper in Deolalikar's recent (August 6th, 2010) paper claiming to prove that P≠NP which says: "This field started with Besag (1974) and ..."
Stuart Geman (Providence)
Oh My God. In my mind I had him still working with students in Seattle. I didn't know he was seriously ill. Poor Julian. He struggled with so many demons. And I recently found this incredibly clever way to build Markov samples with fixed transition numbers that he worked out with Debashis Mondal. Never got to tell him.
Chris Glasbey (Edinburgh)
I am saddened to hear of Julian's death, though I knew he was seriously ill. I greatly respected his work, particularly his "read papers", and his FRS was well deserved. Although he could appear irritable, I found him kind and considerate. I recall him emailing me after Rob Kempton's death - words which I then quoted at Rob's funeral.
David Madigan (New York)
The news of Julian's passing was a big shock. I just read your (Peter Green's) wonderful obituary on the SuSTaIn website. My relationship with Julian was indeed stormy, including a particular moment on his boat where he called me a "stupid paddy!" He was a gifted teacher and I learned much from him in the years we overlapped in Seattle. It was wonderful to spend the few hours with him at Bristol last June.
Judy Nasmith (Seattle)
While saddened, I know how much he has gone through over the past several years and I take solace in the fact that he is at peace now. He was a good friend to me and I will miss communicating with him.
Sonia Petrone (Milan)
I am so bad at expressing thing in words, especially in English! I met Julian only a few times, after all, but when I met him in Bristol after so many years, it was amazing how we were still good friends. I think Julian was like this, he had such a strong and direct way to communicate his torment and passion for living, with no filter. Life in its essence, joy and drama. His intelligence in research was also like that, I think, essential and deep.
There is another thing about Julian I liked so much: his passion for water, for the ocean. Perhaps you could post a little line from me, it's a line by Baudelaire, but I would like to say it to him in Italian:
Uomo libero, amerai sempre il mare.
Homme libre, toujours tu chériras la mer!
Eric Renshaw (Strathclyde)
Very sad to hear about poor old Julian. The last time I saw him was at the Royal Society of Edinburgh some time ago and he seemed to be pretty shaky then. By all accounts he was slowly getting more poorly thereafter so the news has not come as a complete surprise. I just hope that following the major surgery he was able to be kept sufficiently sedated not to suffer any pain.
Christian Robert (Paris)
I have just learned that Julian Besag passed away yesterday morning in Bristol after being admitted to the hospital two weeks ago. He was a leading figure of our field, a fiercely independent thinker, a brilliant statistician, and undoubtedly the clearest pretendent to having fathered MCMC. His influence on the field of spatial statistics will be felt for years, but he will be sorely missed. My first meeting with Julian was in 1993 in Laramie, Wyoming, and my last memory of him will be the visit George Casella and I made to Bath and Bristol in October 2008, and where Julian attended both of our talks as well as the dinner in Bath and the after-seminar beer in Bristol. He will be missed.
Stan Zachary (Heriot-Watt)
I was very shocked and saddened to see your mail about Julian, of whom I have nothing but the fondest of memories, and who was a very good and supportive friend to me and to many others.