Faculty Profile

Roderick Joseph Little, PhD

Roderick Joseph Little, PhD

  • Richard D. Remington Distinguished University Professor of Biostatistics
  • Professor, Department of Statistics
  • Research Professor, Institute for Social Research
  • Senior Fellow, Michigan Society of Fellows
  • M4071 SPH II
  • 1415 Washington Heights
  • Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-2029

Rod Little chaired the Biostatistics Department from January 2007 to December 2009, and from 1993 to 2001. Prior to that he was Professor in the Department of Biomathematics at the University of California at Los Angeles; Research Fellow at the U.S. Bureau of the Census (1982-83); Expert Consultant at the United States Environmental Protection Agency; Scientific Associate at the World Fertility Survey; and Research Associate (Assistant Professor) in the Department of Statistics, University of Chicago.

Active editorially, he was Coordinating and Applications Editor of the Journal of the American Statistical Association from 1992-1994, and he is currently co-editor of the Journal of Survey Statistics and Methodology. From Jan 2010-Dec 2012 Little was a Vice President of the American Statistical Association.

Since his fellowship at the Census Bureau he has been interested in federal statistical issues such as the census undercount, and he has served as a member of the Committee on National Statistics and a number of other National Research Council committees. In 2009-10 he chaired an NRC study on the prevention and treatment of missing data in clinical trials. From Sep 2010-Jan 2013 Little served as the inaugural Associate Director for Research and Methodology and Chief Scientist at the U.S. Census Bureau.

An ISI highly cited researcher, he has over 200 refereed publications, notably on methods for the analysis of data with missing values and model-based survey inference, and the application of statistics to diverse scientific areas, including medicine, demography, economics, psychiatry, aging and the environment. He has chaired or co-chaired 29 doctoral committees. In 2005 Dr. Little received the Wilks' Memorial Award from the American Statistical Association for his research contributions. At the Joint Statistical Meetings, he gave the President's Invited Address in 2005 and the COPSS Fisher lecture in 2012.

Little is a Fellow of the American Statistical Association and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the National Academy of Medicine.

  • PhD, Statistics, London University, 1974
  • M.Sc., Statistics and Operational Research, London University, 1972
  • B.A., Mathematics, Cambridge University, 1971

A primary research interest is the analysis of data sets with missing values. Many statistical techniques are designed for complete, rectangular data sets, but in practice biostatistical data sets contain missing values, either by design or accident. As detailed in my book with Rubin, initial statistical approaches were relatively ad-hoc, such as discarding incomplete cases or substituting means, but modern methods are increasingly based on models for the data and missing-data mechanism, using likelihood-based inferential techniques.

Another interest is the analysis of data collected by complex sampling designs involving stratification and clustering of units. Since working as a statistician for the World Fertility Survey, I have been interested in the development of model-based methods for survey analysis that are robust to misspecification, reasonably efficient, and capable of implementation in applied settings. Statistics is philosophically fascinating and diverse in application. My inferential philosophy is model-based and Bayesian, although the effects of model misspecification need careful attention. My applied interests are broad, including mental health, demography, environmental statistics, biology, economics and the social sciences as well as biostatistics.

  • Little, R.J.A. & Rubin, D.B. (2019). Statistical Analysis with Missing Data 3rd edition April 2019 (2nd edition 2002, 1st edition 1987), New York: John Wiley
  • Zhou, T., Elliott, M.R. and Little, R.J. (2019). Penalized Spline of Propensity Methods for Treatment Comparisons (with discussion and rejoinder). Journal of the American Statistical Association, 114:525, 1-38, DOI: 10.1080/01621459.2018.1518234.
  • Little, R.J., Rubin, D.B.  and Zanganeh, S.Z. (2016). Conditions for ignoring the missing-data mechanism in likelihood inferences for parameter subsets. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 112 (517), 314-320. DOI: 10.1080/01621459.2015.1136826
  • Little, R.J. and Kang, S. (2015). Intention-to-Treat Analysis with Treatment Discontinuation and Missing Data in Clinical Trials. Statistics in Medicine, 34, 16, 2381–2390. DOI: 10.1002/sim.6352
  • Little, R.J. (2013). In Praise of Simplicity, Not Mathematistry! Simple, Powerful Ideas for the Applied Statistician. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 108, 359-370.
  • Little, R.J., D'Agostino, R., Cohen, M.L., Dickersin, K., Emerson, S.S., Farrar, J.T., Frangakis, C., Hogan, J.W., Molenberghs, G., Murphy, S.A., Rotnitsky, A., Scharfstein, D., Neaton, J.D., Shih, W., Siegel, J.P., Stern, H. (2012). Special Report: The Prevention and Treatment of Missing Data in Clinical Trials. New England Journal of Medicine,367, 14, 1355-1360.
  • Little, R.J. (2012). Calibrated Bayes: an Alternative Inferential Paradigm for Official Statistics (with discussion and rejoinder) Journal of Official Statistics, 28, 3, 309-372. Statistics Sweden
  • Little, R.J. & Zhang, N. (2011). Subsample Ignorable Likelihood for Regression Analysis with Missing Data. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Ser. C: Applied Statistics, 60,4, 591-605.
  • Guo, Y., Little, R.J. and McConnell, D.S. (2011). On Using Summary Statistics from an External Calibration Sample to Correct for Covariate Measurement Error. Epidemiology,  23(1), 165-174. DOI: 10.1097/EDE.0b013e31823a4386
  • Little, R.J., Yosef, M., Nan, B., & Harlow, S. (2011). A method for the longitudinal prospective evaluation of markers of a subsequent event. (With discussion and rejoinder) American Journal of Epidemiology, 173, 12, 1380-1387. Oxford

  • 1985-Present: Fellow, American Statistical Association
  • Member, International Biometrics Society
  • Fellow, Royal Statistical Society
  • Member, International Statistical Institute
  • 2010-Present: Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • 2011-2015: Member, Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences
  • 2015-present: Member, National Academy of Medicine

An enthusiastic amateur musician, Little is Vice President for Artistic Affairs for the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra, and he currently sings for the UMS Choral Union and Kol Halev, the choir of Temple Beth Emeth in Ann Arbor.