David Firth came to Warwick in 2003 from Oxford, where he was Professor of Social Statistics. Before that he held academic positions at Imperial College London, at the University of Texas at Austin, and at the University of Southampton. He works on general statistical theory and methods, and applications in several areas of science, social science and public life. From 2023 to 2025 he is a Leverhulme Emeritus Fellow.
David is a former Editor of the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society (Series B, Statistical Methodology), and has served as Associate Editor of several other prominent journals including Biometrika and Biostatistics. In 2008 he was elected a Fellow of the British Academy. In 2012 he was awarded the Guy Medal in Silver.
Consultancy projects have included:
- election-night forecasting for the BBC, where David developed a novel method for exit polling which has now been used by the major UK broadcasters at the last five UK general elections
- working with the Social Disadvantage Research Centre in Oxford he developed a new method to combine disparate dimensions of local deprivation data into an overall Index of Multiple Deprivation, the method that has now been in use across all four nations of the UK since 2000.
Current research topics include:
- inference and computation for generalized nonlinear models (with Heather Turner and Ioannis Kosmidis);
- inference and computation for complex random-effects models (with Cristiano Varin);
- models of competition and the analysis of pair-comparison data (with Manuela Cattelan, Cristiano Varin, Heather Turner, David Selby and Ian Hamilton);
- compositional data analysis (with Fiona Sammut and Zeeshan Ali);
- penalized likelihood methods, especially for modelling discrete data (with Ioannis Kosmidis).
Selected publications since 2003
Firth, D (2023). Sir David Cox: A Few Memories. Harvard Data Science Review, 5(2). https://doi.org/10.1162/99608f92.f27cc65f
Firth, D, Reid, N, Mayo, D and Battey, H (2022). Remembering Sir David Cox, 1924–2022. Significance 19(2), 30–37. https://doi.org/10.1111/1740-9713.01632
Turner, H L, Batchelor, A D and Firth, D (2022). Nonlinear discrete-time hazard models for women's entry into marriage. Statistical Modelling 22, 107–126. https://doi.org/10.1177/1471082X211062651
Kosmidis, I and Firth, D (2021). Jeffreys-prior penalty, finiteness and shrinkage in binomial-response generalized linear models. Biometrika 108, 71–82. https://doi.org/10.1093/biomet/asaa052
Turner, HL, van Etten, J, Firth, D and Kosmidis, I (2020). Modelling rankings in R: The PlackettLuce package. Computational Statistics 35, 1027–1057. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00180-020-00959-3
Firth, D, Kosmidis, I and Turner, HL (2019). Davidson-Luce model for multi-item choice with ties. http://arxiv.org/abs/1909.07123
Varin, C, Cattelan, M and Firth, D (2016). Statistical modelling of citation exchange between statistics journals (with discussion). Journal of the Royal Statistical Society A 179, 1-63. This paper appeared originally at http://arxiv.org/abs/1312.1794. The zip archive of supplementary material (0.4MB) contains documented data and R-code for the analyses. The paper was read at the Royal Statistical Society on 13 May 2015, ahead of publication (with discussion) in J Roy Stat Soc A.
Cattelan, M, Varin, C and Firth, D (2013). Dynamic Bradley-Terry modelling of sports tournaments. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society C 62, 135–150. The zip archive of supplementary material contains the data and R code used for the examples in the paper.
Turner, H and Firth, D (2012). Bradley-Terry Models in R: The BradleyTerry2 Package. Journal of Statistical Software 48(9), 1–21.
Firth, D (2011). On improved estimation for importance sampling. Brazilian Journal of Probability and Statistics 25, 437–443. (PDF download )
Kuha, J and Firth, D (2011). On the index of dissimilarity for lack of fit in log-linear and log-multiplicative models. Computational Statistics and Data Analysis 55, 375–388.
Kosmidis, I and Firth, D (2010). A generic algorithm for reducing bias in parametric estimation. Electronic Journal of Statistics 4, 1097–1112
Kosmidis, I and Firth, D (2009). Bias reduction in exponential family nonlinear models. Biometrika 96, 793–804.
Curtice, J and Firth, D (2008). Exit polling in a cold climate: The BBC/ITV experience in Britain in 2005 (with discussion). Journal of the Royal Statistical Society A, 171, 509–539.
Sergeant, J C and Firth, D (2006). Relative index of inequality: Definition, estimation and inference. Biostatistics 7, 213–224.
Whiting, M J, Stuart-Fox, D M, O'Connor, D, Firth, D, Bennett, N C and Blomberg, S P (2006). Ultraviolet signals ultra-aggression in a lizard. Animal Behaviour 72, 353–363.
Stuart-Fox, D M, Firth, D, Moussalli, A and Whiting, M J (2006). Multiple signals in chameleon contests: designing and analysing animal contests as a tournament. Animal Behaviour 71, 1263–1271.
Firth, D. and Menezes, R. X. de (2004). Quasi-variances. Biometrika 91, 65–80.
Firth, D. (2003). Overcoming the reference category problem in the presentation of statistical models. Sociological Methodology 33, 1–18.
- former PhD students
- unpublished or hard-to-find papers
Election exit pollsDavid's research work is behind the accurate exit-poll predictions that have been made at the last six UK general elections (in 2001, 2005, 2010, 2015, 2017 and 2019). For more details see exit polling explained.
Far-reaching statistical theory!What connects all these: nuclear weapons, rattlesnakes, coral, pneumonia, cancer, basketball?
Email: d dot firth at warwick dot ac dot uk
Voice: 44 (0)247 657 4855
PGP public key: df-key.txt
|Professor D Firth
Dept of Statistics
University of Warwick
Coventry, CV4 7AL
Office location: MSB 4.08, new Mathematical Sciences building.
@firthstat (no longer in use)