Mel Hinich was a professor of political science and economics at the University of Texas at Austin, where he was the Mike Hogg Professor of Local Government.

Mel’s tragic death brings to an end one of the truly innovative and productive careers in academics.  He was the very definition of a polymath, having made seminal contributions to multiple fields of study.

But he was so much more: one of the most interesting and stimulating people ever, an exacting critic of the academy and, yes, curmudgeonly.

Please take a moment and compose some thoughts in Mel’s memory–scholarly or personal.

Also, please visit Mel’s website:

You may also read the Wikipedia entry on Mel:

83 posts so far add your thoughts

  1. I am very upset to have only recently discovered Professor Hinich’s passing. He was a brilliant gentleman and scholar. I recall when he became heavily frustrated with me, by challenging a fact I presented to the class, out of his selfless concern for academics. Aside from Professor Hinich’s awesome polymathic reasoning skills, what impressed me the most about the man was his true concern for 21st century academics. He was very critical of the tolerant culture of mainstream 21st century academics, often citing contrasts to pre-WWI, early 20th century academic culture and integrity. Professor Hinich was a brilliant man and while his scholarly contributions are living, his passing is a significant loss to UT.

  2. I almost can’t remember a time when I did not know Professor Hinich’s name. My father, who was a business professor and an early enthusiast of public choice only had the highest praise for Professor Hinich. I found his work quite difficult to follow when I was young, and quite easy and beautiful to follow when I got older. My father told me he was a fascinating man, exploding with life. My condolences to his family.

  3. Mel’s early work in HOS tests was a credit to the applications that came later, and one of his students was a postdoc with me, who was quite versatile in economics and mathematics. A real loss to the community.

  4. Subroto (Suby) Roy

    went to Mel’s Wall to wish him Happy Birthday on April 29 2011 only to find he died in September. I am very sorry to hear this. He was my friend and senior colleague in Blacksburg when I first got there in 1980, a brilliant man in his field, a pioneer of “spatial theory” applied to political science; we reconnected about 2005 when I started to apply the theory to Kashmir. Last year I had put forward his name to be President of a new American University in Iraq. My condolences to his wife and daughter.

  5. prasanna kumar k n

    I was deeply pained to hear the untimely demise of Prof. Mel Hinich, who was very kind, generous, clemential and munificent person. I was impressed by his work in chaos theory, and other Mathematical models in political science. As a mathematician and econometrician, I think his death is an irretrievable loss to the world of mathematical modelers. I sincerely pray that his soul rests in peace and may God give strength and fortitude to bear this loss to his near and dear one. Personally, I have lost a dear friend .

  6. I would like to extend my condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues. I took his economics and politics class a few semesters ago and I found him to be an interesting human being and a caring and interested teacher. As a dancer, I especially appreciated how interested he was in the arts and dance. Also I got a chance to talk to him outside of class a few times and loved how excited he was to talk about his granddaughters; it was clear to me how much he loved them. I am only sorry I didn’t get to know him better. Rest in peace Professor, and thank you for everything!

  7. I learned about Mel’s passing through a mutual friend. I will simply quote from the Acknowledgments in my dissertation.

    “I would like to thank Dr. Melvin Hinich who made a lot of concepts in higher order spectral analysis clear to me shortly after meeting him at the Vail, CO workshop in 1989. He really made the field exciting.”

    These words are true today as they were in 1993. Regards and best wishes to Sonje, Amy, Nico, Rachel and Caitlyn.

  8. I was not aware of the sad news about Mel Hinich until today, a few months late, when a colleague informed me of his death. He was someone who was always willing to strike a conversation, particularly about politics. But what characterized him best was his scholarship. He was a true scholar with interests in entirely two different fields, politics and time series analysis.

    I first met Mel more than four decades ago when I became a statistics graduate student at CMU. We became instant friends from the moment we met until his departure to the unknown. We shared an appreciation for time series analysis and often discussed research. He was very much into Middle East politics and it was very interesting to hear his right of center penetrating and profound realistic views.

    I extend my condolence and commiseration to his wife, daughter, and grandchildren.

  9. I only learned about Dr. Hinich’s passing a short time ago and I couldn’t write earlier because I have been overwhelmed by shock and horror. It is still very hard for me to write about this, I still can’t believe that such a great person and friend has disappeared. Dr. Hinich was in fact an extraordinary friend. His kindness was unique. (I can’t believe I’m writing in the past – “Dr. Hinich was”… it seems impossible!).
    He played a major role in the success of my Ph.D. dissertation back in 1996-98 and that’s how I started to contact him and met him. In fact, I was working on nonlinear time series and came across his bispectral test. I had several questions on the test and managed to find Dr. Douglas Patterson’s email address (who also writes here) and asked him quite a few questions concerning this issue. I had a lot of questions, I was trying to figure out how the procedure worked. After a while, Dr. Patterson referred me to Dr. Hinich and that’s how I started my contacts with him. His kindness, his unselfishness, his caring personality became immediately clear. Without knowing me, without even knowing who I was, with no information about me, he was extremely patient, extremely helpful and at the same time extremely supporting. His help, his support, his sympathy for someone who was going through a terrible time (me, working on my dissertation, trying to get it done) was crucial and was one of the most important components of my success. I would never be able to thank him enough.
    The first time we met was a great coincidence. I was on a poster session in the NSF Time Series Seminar in Raleigh, NC in 1997. When I found out a spot to post my presentation, guess who was right next to it… yes, Dr. Hinich (with Dr. Douglas Patterson). We were next to each other, but we had never seen each other. I saw his name there and started talking to him. In fact, we talked during the whole session and didn’t care much about it. I felt very happy and honored for meeting him. He was so nice, it was so interesting talking to him!
    We kept in touch and we met twice before I returned to my country after finishing my Ph.D. in October 1998. His personality never changed. His extreme kindness, friendship and support were always present. I will never forget these features of his character.
    He then visited me twice here in my city. When I remember those days I miss our long talks. In the past few years we spoke on skype and I remember telling him that he looked great. I enjoyed being able to see him and talk to him every once-in-a-while. I told him about my life, about how things were going here, about the Economy, and a million other things. I always listened to his opinion very carefully and I enjoyed his comments. This is what I’ll miss most: he was always there to listen and help me. As I mentioned earlier, he had a truly kind personality, he was a true friend, a great person.
    Professionally, he was among the very best. He was an expert in several totally different fields and he had high-class work on all of them. I can only talk about his work on Time Series Analysis because I read several of his papers. They were all extremely interesting and meaningful. He knew that research is finding new interesting things, telling people about things they need, developing useful and necessary results. His research, his work were in fact enlightening and useful in their areas. His results were always very relevant.
    I could write many pages about his work and his achievements, but that’s not what I want. What really matters to me is that a truly good person, a genuine person, a rare kind of a person has been lost. However, he may have disappeared from our earthly life, but he will be alive in our hearts and minds. He will never disappear from the lives of those like me who were so lucky to have met him, those who were lucky to receive some of his friendship and kindness. I know I am very lucky. For all this, I feel very bad, I miss him very much, I feel an overwhelming pain. I never thought he would leave so soon. I was looking forward to many talks on skype and to meeting him personally again a few times. I regret not having done it. I never thought it would not happen, I always took it for granted. Never got the chance to say goodbye. Life may be so unfair. Such things shouldn’t happen.
    Dr. Hinich left too early, he still had so much to live, to enjoy in life and, yes, to give us all. We all lose, this is a huge loss for all of us. I will miss him very much as long as I live, I will never forget him. It seems impossible that I will not be able to talk to him on skype anymore… it seems unthinkable that we won’t be there anymore…

  10. Mel was across the hall from me by total chance. From brief discussions about the subjects he held interest in, our relationship evolved to one of trusted friendship. He worked very hard to ensure that I understood the nature of his papers, and identified the weak areas that I would have to address to best be able to collaborate with him. I was impressed by the breadth and depth of his ideas, and their applicability ranging from assisting hedge funds with their risk models, identifying resonances in sunspots, and critically, identifying the fundamental flaws in the subprime market risk management process which lead to its downfall.

    The timing of his passing was a shock to me, considering that we had work to do together. I’m sure others will say the same, but he possessed the unique ability of an enabler of ability. Maybe nobody has said this yet, but all of those among you he considered to be his friends, you were heroes to him.

    At least once a week, he was in touch, and in his notes, his motto “be well”, was there, and now I will sorely miss it.

    Chris Walker

  11. What can I say that hasn’t already been said? And yet the totality of the posts here only scratches the surface of how complex and brilliant this man was. I knew Mel for 15 years, but began to work with him about four years ago. It was a truly unique experience for me; our sessions would sometimes careen out of control, with extended discussions on Shakespeare, classical music, macro-economics, and conspiracy theories. Sometimes they might seem to be a waste of time–but then I’d think about something he said that would lead to something else that would lead to something else… The opportunity to work professionally with Mel is something I will always cherish. The opportunity to become a friend of his is something I will cherish much more.

    You left us too early, but we’re glad we had you for as long as we did.

    Daron Shaw

  12. Theo Panagiotidis

    Although I have never met Prof Hinich, I am saddened by the bad news. One of the reasons is because I always wanted to meet him.

    However I met Prof Hinich through his writings when I was doing my PhD. One of the most influential papers I have read was the one in JoBES. Doug Patterson tells the full story of this paper in this site. Since then I have followed his writing and his work is appearing in most of my papers.

    I am really sorry that I won’t have the chance to meet him and say “thank you” for the inspiration and the guidance.


  13. I first learned about Mel Hinich’s work through a year-long course I had in the 1986-87 academic year on nonlinear time series analysis taught by James Ramsey (who soon became my dissertation advisor). In that course James introduced us to a 1984 paper by Salih Neftci (who tragically died last year) on ‘business cycle asymmetry,’ a topic I found quite interesting. In subsequent discussion James suggested it might be useful to approach the question of such behavior within the context of ‘time reversibility’ (TR). This made a lot of sense to me, especially since: (1) I had learned about TR through books written by Tong and Subba Rao and papers by Brillinger and Rosenblatt; (2) knew that if a time series is TR, then a certain condition holds for all of its higher-order spectra, i.e., the imaginary part is zero; (3) thought that a third-order version test of this condition could be work through Mel Hinich’s bispectrum tests; and (4) felt that all of this gave me a clear path through my dissertation. James, however, was not keen on using a bispectrum-based test for TR (we jointly developed a time domain third-order test of TR which became the basis of my thesis), so I did not purse that path at the time.

    In July of 1990, the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications at the University of Minnesota ran a four-week long conference on time series analysis. The theme of the first week was nonlinear and non-Gaussian time series analysis, the stuff I had feasted on for several years under the direction of James Ramsey. When James learned about the conference, he said, ‘Phil, you have to go!’ and he paid my way there through his research budget. I met Mel at that conference and we hung out a lot (the world famous statistician and the pretty-much-known-to-no-one freshly minted PhD). In addition to discussing time series issues (including a bispectral approach to testing TR), we talked about an incredibly wide range of topics, including: what would become known as ‘global warming’ (Mel’s friends can make a good guess about his stance on that); the death of the Enlightenment (esp. as manifested in US university life); Israel; the US Civil War (‘Grant was a genius’ and ‘Lee took on far too many risks’); discussing baseball with Robert Lucas during lunch at Carnegie Mellon in the late 1960s; the ubiquitous evidence in favor of GARCH in financial data; his family; my family; his growing up poor in Pittsburgh; the mosquito being the state bird in Minnesota; etc.

    Several years later we finally worked on a bispectral-based test for TR; the paper was published in 1998.

    Over the years Mel visited with my family and me many times. On most of those visits we usually found time to swim in the ocean at Atlantic Beach, NC. On all of those visits we drank a lot of wine, laughed a lot, and talked, and talked, and talked.

    Mel was a dear and generous friend and colleague. He will be sorely missed by many. May his memory be a blessing.

  14. My thoughts and prayers go out to Professor Hinich’s family.

    What a wonderful, brilliant human being.

    Professor Hinich was the most generous mentor I have ever known. If he wasn’t on the phone with a former student, he was boarding a plane, about to travel halfway around the world to visit a friend or help with research. Professor Hinich: we will all miss your support, your encouragement, and your insight. Thank you for believing in us, and for investing in us so selflessly.

    And from me: thank you for teaching me how to think critically. For demonstrating how to account for the interests that shape ideas, even when those interests are mine. May you rest in peace.

    Your student always, Eric.

  15. Texas Economics Association

    Dr. Hinich attended one of our meetings last year to speak on his research. He was a great professor and our entire club mourns his passing.

  16. I was trying to download some materials from Mel’s website this morning. I just can’t believe this sad news. The last correspondence we had was at the end of July this year. He dropped an email asking the status of our time reversibility paper.

    I came to know Mel when I was doing my master degree in 2002. My thesis examined the serial dependence in exchange rate series using a battery of nonlinearity tests including his bispectrum test. He was very generous in sharing his FORTRAN code, along with some constructive comments. I was shocked, given his stature, when he invited me to meet up during his trip to Singapore. I grabbed at this rare opportunity and took a train down from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore. We didn’t talk much on that occasion, and he basically showed how his bispectrum test was executed. However, this set the stage for our subsequent collaboration on nonlinear time series using his bicorrelation test.

    In 2005, I had the opportunity to know Mel in person. My school organized an economics conference, and he accepted my invitation to be the keynote speaker. After delivering his address, we spent most of the time in my office discussing his work and potential topics. I was amazed by his passion for research, and his wide range of knowledge including local non-academic issues. In response to Claudio, yes, Mel was always working. When I picked him up from his hotel on those mornings, he would share with me how he managed to solve the problem/issue we discussed the previous day. At a personal level, he can talk about anything. During dinner with my family, he picked up common topics that laymen can understand.

    Mel has been a good mentor and collaborator for the past 8 years, to whom I am forever grateful. His constant encouragement and guidance always keep me motivated in my research. I will miss him a lot.

    Kian Ping

  17. Patricia Murrieta

    I had the fortune of meeting Mel Hinich while Leonardo (my husband) was studying at UT. Even though I was not his student, he was always concerned about my own progress at UT and my family’s well being.
    I received his last phone call a couple of weeks before he died. As always, we were talking on the phone for long. He asked me about the kids, the situation in Mexico and my dissertation—for which he would just reply: “just finish”–.
    I remember many hours of long and interesting conversations with him, even when we could have opposite ideas about politics and migration… I really enjoyed listening about his trips, his life, his family, politics, education and many other things he would always be willing to discuss and share with us; including what was going on with our friends in Chile. Some of these wonderful conversations took place with a good bottle of tequila at our house in Mexico.
    I also remember the day he told Leonardo he wanted to be at our children’s baptism. He always wanted to know people and to meet their families and to know as much as possible from them. He was always wonderful with the kids. I liked when I asked one of the boys if they remembered him and they would say: “yes… he is my father’s friend, the one that always plays with Santiago” (who is 5 years old). And that is true; he would always be playing with him, even though none of them would understand each other. He was not just significant for Leonardo and I, he was also significant for the boys. He was always loving and caring with the whole family… I will miss him.

  18. In January of 1980 I flew to Roanoke Virginia to interview for a faculty position in the finance department of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech for short). I was met at the airport by a friend in the finance department and a faculty member from the economics department. The latter’s name was Melvin Hinich. I learned over supper that Mel was a talented time series statistician—which was why he had been invited. I shared with him my recent work in fitting transfer function models between the prices of a stock warrant (a form of option) and the prices of the underlying stock using trade-by-trade price data. The next day Mel came to my presentation, encouraging me with frequent smiles that told me that he, at least, understood what I was talking about.

    I accepted a job offer, and arrived with my family in Blacksburg in the late summer. Mel sought me out for lunches and discussions. He told me about a paper he was writing which would test for non linear dependence in time series using what he said was the estimated bispectrum of the series. I said that it would be very interesting to apply his test to stock market prices. He was skeptical that stock market prices would follow a nonlinear stochastic process. Besides, he said that computer code to implement the test did not exist. At that point I volunteered to write FORTRAN code to do the test. He was still skeptical because of the large time commitment involved and the likely possibility that the research would not lead to any interesting results. Regardless, I went ahead and wrote the code.

    We applied the bispectrum test to a random sample of 15 stocks sampled on a daily basis. The results were astonishing. I will never forget the Saturday night when we met in a small room which contained a computer terminal connected to the university’s IBM mainframe. The data blew away the hypothesis that those stock prices were generated by a linear process. Thus was the first discovery that stock prices were not generated by a Gaussian process, as commonly thought, or that the process was an example of a linear stochastic process. This result has been replicated many times since, using different data sets, including high frequency prices, by other authors, and using different statistical tests, including the test developed by Brock, Deckert, and Scheinkman, the BDS test. The paper reporting our results was published in the Journal of Business and Economic Statistics. Over the years since its publication it has been cited at least 400 times.

    In the spring of 1994 I spent a good portion of a sabbatical at The University of Texas at Austin working with Mel on the development of what he called the “bicovariance Test,” the time domain analog of the Bispectrum Test. Mel set me up in a small office in Burdine Hall equipped with a desktop PC. I worked primarily on the FORTRAN code for an implementation program named T23. The “2” stands for a second-order serial correlation statistic, and the “3” refers to the third-order bicovariance test statistic. We co-authored a paper titled “Detecting Epochs of Transient Dependence in White Noise.” We demonstrated the new test using trade-by-trade stock prices of 15 of the 30 Dow Jones Industrial stocks which had been passed through an antialiasing filter. What we discovered is that the nonlinear serial dependence in stock prices was transient in nature. That is, on most days stock rates of return appeared to be drawings from a Gaussian distribution. On other days the data was highly nonlinear. We speculated that on the days with significant nonlinear serial dependence new information was being impounded into prices.

    On the Monday following Easter Sunday in 1994 my father died of a heart attack on his return to his home in Roanoke after spending the holiday with my family in Blacksburg. My wife, Sara, didn’t have the phone number of my small office in Burdine Hall. She phoned Mel with the news who called me, and asked me to come downstairs to his office. He asked me to sit down in that old wooden office chair which was close to his desk, the chair where he often placed papers. He told me directly that my father had died.

    Over the years we developed a close friendship in addition to our professional association. Mel visited our home in Blacksburg many times. He saw our two children grow up. He was present when my son John experienced his first day of school, and shared John’s excitement at being able to ride the school bus with his older sister. On another trip we took Mel north to Lexington, Virginia, for one of John’s soccer games. He met my parents who lived in Roanoke. He was visiting when my daughter Cara went on her first date. I remember that Mel was sleeping on a roll-away bed in a room close to the front door. The next morning he assured me that he overheard a proper “good-night” on the front porch the night before.

    And so farewell, old friend. May you now find eternal peace.

    Doug Patterson

  19. I was Mel’s colleague at Texas for three decades. During the entire time he was a senior professor while I was moving (slowly) through the ranks. Eventually I became his chair. Mel never altered his behavior towards me, not when we were on opposing sides of departmental politics or when as chair I had to talk to him about his sometimes idiosyncratic teaching methods. Through it all I knew I could always depend on his friendship.

    Two stories. Years ago we decided to share a room at an APSA meeting to cut costs. We had reserved a room with two double beds but when we arrived late at night and exhausted, we discovered a single king-sized bed. After a panicked call to the desk provided no relief, we agreed to share the bed but only after swearing never to tell anyone. I interpret Mel’s untimely death as releasing me from that solemn oath.

    On another occasion when Sonje was out of town Mel invited me over for a drink. Midway through our first single malt Mel got up to move the hose in his backyard, explaining that Sonje had left strict instructions that he keep the grass green. Mel was gone for what seemed an inordinately long time. Eventually I heard the back door open. Mel came in drenched from head to toe. Without a word, he sat down and reached for his glass as if nothing had happened. Mel had wrestled that garden hose and the hose had won.

  20. I just learned of Professor Hinich’s passing today as I was researching conference opportunities for my internship, a local political strategies company here in Austin. I was a student in Professor Hinich’s Politics and the Economy class last semester and enjoyed every minute of it. I’m extremely saddened by this news, and send my deepest condolences to his family. He was truly an inspiring person to listen to and will be deeply missed.

  21. This is so horribly unfortunate. I met Mel through my father; they were close friends and collectively developed the spatial theory of voting in the late 60s. I got to know and appreciate Mel more fully after Dad passed; he became a good friend with strong opinions, yet a warm heart. He came to visit us in Chicago and was more than supportive as we set up a lecture series in Dad’s name. I was amazed at how quick his mind was, how humble he was, and how curious he was about the world. I greatly appreciated his many reflections on the development of the spatial theory of voting.

    Mel, you made numerous substantive, lasting contributions to the science of many fields, you were a friend to me and many others, you made the world a better place, and you will be dearly missed.

  22. Mel was brilliant, a great conversationalist and a curmudgeon. But most of all, he was very supportive of other people’s work and ideas. He was very engaging and made me feel like one of his closest friends. From the other comments, I see that he was able to make others feel the same way. I will miss him. My condolences to his family.

  23. Adrian Van Deemen

    I know Mel from my visit to The University of Texas in Austin in 1991-2. Since that time he visited me quite often in Nijmegen The Netherlands and he loved to stay with my family. He always was very warm and gentle at my home, in particular towards my children.

    Once my wife and I took him to a party in Maasbommel. There were a lot of Dutch political scientists visiting that party. Mel started to talk around with the people, but he did not like it. His voice became louder and louder and I observed that he started to offend people. Of course it was about politics and academics. I said to my wife that it was time to leave and so we did. I never forget what Mel said when we were back in the car: “Well Ad, that was wine, cheese and arrogance.” We then drove to my dear friend Marino in Doetinchem who celebrated his birthday. It was more-than-an-hour drive. Meanwhile I became worried and I was wondering whether Mel also would offend the people of the coming party we now went to. These were close friends. How wrong I was! He immediately felt at home; he was warm and friendly, speaking with many people in a wholehearted way. He drank Dutch beer, which he liked very much, and he had asked whether he was allowed to take the beer from the refrigerator by himself. Now that is the best question you can ask in that region of the Netherlands which is called “De Achterhoek.” My friend Marino afterwards called him the most “Achterhoekse” American he had ever met. All the people liked Mel a lot. They called him a super farmer, which really is the greatest compliment people from that region can give someone. That was my dear friend Mel: warm, gentle, open, wholehearted, curious, eager to know, easy going with people, but also rough, offending and disgusting arrogance by all means.

    Mel was a great scientist with many brilliant ideas. I learned a lot from him. I will miss him, as a warm friend and as a teacher and scientist pur sang.

    Ad van Deemen

  24. Howard Rosenthal

    I probably go back much farther with Mel then anyone who has posted until now.

    When I joined the faculty at Carnegie Mellon (then Carnegie Tech) in 1966, Mel had already been there three years. His seminal work on the multidimensional spatial model with Toby Davis (now also deceased) was well underway. Mel and Toby were also joined, in 1967, by Peter Ordershook. Most of my empirical work owes its inspiration to Mel’s awakening my interest in models and the spatial model in particular. Mel and Peter wrote a theoretical paper on abstention which guided my empirical work on France, which led to my getting tenure. Mel and Peter, in their work, with Cahoon, were also pioneers in the scaling of political data, anticipating the work that Keith Poole and I initiated in the early 1980s.

    Mel was a mathematical statistician as well as a political scientist. He brokered a collaboration between myself, Jim Laing, and Dave Hildebrand (now also deceased and formerly chair of Statistics at Penn) that led to our book “Prediction Analysis of Cross Classifications.” I am deeply obligated to Mel for much of my career; I suspect there are many others who are similarly grateful.

    The 60s and 70s were leisurely times when scholars could think creatively as opposed to publishing large numbers of little papers. Once every week or two, Mel, Peter, Jim, I, and a few others would congregate one evening in someone’s home to talk social science and drink a couple cases of Iron City, one case for Mel and the other for the rest of us. As in everything else, Mel was a stellar performer.

    We would also go to lunch at the Old Skibo, almost daily, at 11:30, since business school folks valued their time and did not want to wait in line with the rest of the faculty. Mel would always predict there will be another war in the Middle East. In 1973, he was proven right.

    It was a sad day for me in 1974 when Mel was driven out of Carnegie Mellon by administrators and budgets unable to tolerate brilliant eccentrics.

    Mel, I missed you then, and I really miss you now.

    Howard Rosenthal

  25. I had the opportunity to meet Mel several times during the last three years and each time it has been a wonderful experience.

    Speaking with Mel was unbelievable. Interesting like with no one else.
    We all have lost a genius and a friend.

    Rest in peace!

    Luca Pilenga

  26. I had the pleasure to work with Prof. Hinich over the years. Mel was a good friend who always had a sharp opinion on Brazilian politics. Unfortunately he came to Brazil only once and we did not have much time to discuss interesting things other than our papers on random number generators (Unfortunately we did not publish them).

    It was a shock to hear that Mel is gone.

    My deepest condolences to his wife, daughters and two granddaughters

    Rest in peace Prof. Hinich.

    Eduardo Mendes

  27. The world has lost a truly original mind. I feel fortunate to have met him, and will miss seeing him at the Public Choice meetings.

  28. Mel Hinich had a voracious appetite to explore and had a capacity to inspire his colleagues and students. His interests ranging from historical war techniques, the modeling of political preferences, to using sound systems for precise measurements made him a brilliant scholar in so many different fields that never crossed paths. When he visited Bogazici, one of the top universities in Turkey, he gave two speeches, one at the engineering and one at the political science department. Upon his return he would remember the Turkish words, though he did not know any Turkish, and would discuss some of the reactions to his lectures. Mel made understanding simple communication limitless, and more importantly, Mel loved helping out the new generation of scholars. If you were working with Mel he would make difficult projects look easy, and always use his own analyses to provide you with more support. His passion for his academic interests made his own work look like it was always moving forward effortlessly. From the day I met him in the computer lab, in Burdine, Mel took me under his wings. He did not always like and approve the decisions I made but as a dedicated mentor he always extended his unwavering support and took the extra mile to ensure I would challenge myself and do better. When he caught me getting discouraged he would often tell me “look, surviving in this profession is all about managing your frustrations.” Now I have passed his words on to my own students. Thank you Mel, for inspiring us with your great mind, off the chart ideas, daring analyses, and relentless support for your students.

  29. I was returning home from university on a hot Summer afternoon in 1995 on a crammed and very uncomfortable bus trip through Tel Aviv. As a new faculty member at Tel Aviv University, I was sitting down completely engrossed with my esoteric paper dealing with nonlinear time series analysis and the unusual statistics of time reversibility — what would happen if time’s arrow goes backwards? Standing to my side was a rather senior woman obviously having difficulties with the buses abrupt zigzags as it lurched from side to side. At some point I could not watch the passenger trip over herself any further. So I gave up on my time reversibility paper and vacated my seat for the passenger. Then, from the back of the bus, I heard this American voice hollering: “Hey, there is a place for you over here.”

    And that’s how I met Mel! He looked at the article in my hand, and then proceeded to amaze me. Mel explained that he had in fact just published several papers outlining rigorous approaches for testing time-reversibility and nonlinearities, exactly what I was attempting. And since then I am always asking myself: what are the chances of accidentally meeting the world’s leading expert on time series analysis in the back of a rather grubby Tel Aviv bus?

    I felt extremely honoured when Mel visited me several times at Tel Aviv University so that we could complete a time series paper together. Spending time with Mel was an intense experience and left many memorable impressions. First and foremost he was very human — always thinking about his family. Then there were his numerous friends and colleagues who he worked with. Mel was something of a phenomenon in this respect. His skills for networking in science and his abilities to multitask so industriously across so many research fields, put him in a league of his own. Reading all your letters here somehow completes the circle for me, because Mel would always be speaking about many of you with great fondness. And now I am moved to hear your real voices echo back.

    Mel was a first rate researcher whose work and deep scientific contributions will live on in the generations ahead – something which is not an easy feat, as those of us involved with science know too well. Perhaps even more special about Mel is that he always found a place for us, even if it was at the back of some crowded bus in the most unexpected of places. That Mel is no longer with us, is a great loss.

  30. Roberto Armijo Z.

    I didn’t know him personally, but I know some persons with great admiration for his work, but also for his kindness, as I perceived when he answered some of my e-mails some months ago when my son decided to go to study with him at UT this semester. My deep condolences to his wife, daughter and friends.

  31. Harrison Wagner

    From the time Mel arrived at UT until the department moved out of Burdine Hall, Mel’s office was next door to mine. He also used to be such a frequent visitor at my house that he was almost considered a member of the family. In retrospect I find it impossible to capture him in a few words. He could be maddening, but one couldn’t stay mad at him for long. He had the unusual ability to make me feel smaller and less significant, without making me feel any the worse about myself. His range of knowledge, interests, and acquaintances was staggering, but he never dropped names or paraded his knowledge–he was just willing to talk about anything anybody wanted to talk about, and his knowledge gradually became apparent in the course of the conversation. He was one of the most loyal people I ever met, and only wanted friendship in return.

    He also was inclined to make dire forecasts of the future of the world, or the US, or the University of Texas, or the UT Government Department. When he saw me arrive at my office he would frequently come in to tell me that the world as we knew it would soon end, and he always had such a compelling and sophisticated justification for the prediction that he left me feeling very gloomy.

    After the department moved from Burdine, however, I saw little of Mel. I now feel fortunate that we managed to make contact again at the beginning of this summer, when I picked him up at his house and we went out to lunch together. He seemed older, and he told me about his serious eye problems. But otherwise he seemed the same Mel, and once again amazed me with the range of his interests and acquaintances. I am sure I will never again encounter anyone quite like him.

  32. Mel Hinich was one of those scholars who worked in so many fields that many people only knew a part of what he accomplished: He was a major contributor to work on spatial modeling — both formal models and statistical methods for testing those models. In political science, some people only knew him for this work. He made significant contributions to time series and spectrum analysis, and he used those methods in geophysics, finance, and political science. Some in statistics only knew him for these contributions. And those in public policy knew him for his work on the politics of food regulation. I’m sure there were areas in which he worked that I am not aware of. In the 1980s, I was very pleased that a person of his accomplishments was such an early and consistent supporter of the Political Methodology Society. He was a scholar’s scholar who roamed widely in his work and who made major contributions all over the (spatial) map of the social sciences.

  33. When I got an email from Bob Molyneux about Mel’s tragic death I just could not believe it. I actually spoke with Mel on that very day, Monday, Labor Day, while traveling. We got cut off and I was waiting to call him back this weekend. And I was somewhat surprised for not hearing back from him for Rosh HaShana greeting, but now the sad news makes it all come together into a mix of emotions, memories, recollection of meetings, exiting ideas, unfinished projects and a loss of a friend.
    Mel always amazed me as an extraordinary figure, both academically and as a person. His great support for Israel, the “old fashioned” Zionism was a fresh breeze in the political science arena. But most of our professional contacts were in his other field of statistical signal processing. This is actually how I got to know him – through the Hinich bispectrum test that I applied to some musical sounds. When I saw Mel in one of the conferences, I had to tell him about this work, and how his test made new sense of traditional musical orchestration rules. And he immediately had more and newer ideas. So this is how our friendship began and continued for many years.
    Mel visited us several times in Jerusalem, and then in San Diego. In every meeting or conversation I was always impressed not only by his profound understanding of most intricate things, but also with the breadth and immense scope of his interests and how all these different aspects combined together in one person.
    To me Mel was a real Renaissance man, an idealist, a man of thousand interests, strong convictions and passions and so many friends.
    May he rest in peace. Tnuah al Mishkavha Beshalom.
    And to the family, please accept my condolences and may you not know any more sorrow.

  34. A mutual friend informed me of Mel’s death by telephone last night. It was a shock and a moment of profound sadness.
    I first met Mel about 1975 at a conference that I helped to organize on formal theory. Over the course of a long weekend, we had professional and informal discussions at the conference and at my home. We became friends. Later I moved to Austin as the chair of the Government Department. At that time the department was trying to further develop its scholarly reputation. Mel was our first successful recruit at the senior level. His presence helped start a move to Texas of a large number of important scholars. To say that Mel contributed to the scholarship in the discipline misses the depth and breadth of his work. He has produced important research in at least four different disciplines; political science, statistics, economics, and engineering. I have never seen another scholar of this kind, and undoubtedly never well.
    We will miss him, and Sue and I send thoughts to Sonje and Amy.

  35. Alessandra Lippucci

    Mel touched my life with his kindness and affection in ways I will never forget. His friendship came through in our many conversations, which increased during the last few years, and which often ended with my urging him to record his fascinating anecdotes in his memoirs. He would always agree that he should do that, but said that he was too busy. As many of his friends have already noted, he was busy sharing his remarkable intellect, vast experiences and love of knowledge with people all over the world. What also comes through in their remarks is that in these exchanges they experienced Mel-the-human-being. While Mel thrived on ideas, he also seemed to appreciate that academics touch one another, and affirm their friendship and loyalty, through the medium of ideas. How many of us got a kick out of the enthusiasm in his voice, and the way he would start shaking his head while we were trying to make a point—a sure sign that he could not wait to set us straight! And who will ever forget his expressive face and his smile. With Mel, we did not just share ideas and stories, we shared the moment. A talk with Mel always gave me a lift. And, as Mike Munger said in his remarks, when you really needed some serious academic help, he was there for you, and the difference he made in us often got passed on to others. When the economic crisis became the focus of my current events class and I was compelled to learn something about risk, which was Mel’s expertise, he did what he could to educate me. When Mel’s eyes began to fail, his academic life suffered a painful blow, and on one occasion he described in detail how deeply he had been affected by it. For once I could be of help to him simply by listening. The last time we talked was in David Prindle’s office, where the three of us enjoyed a lively conversation. Near the end of it I learned something new about Mel: he loved to dance, and could even tango! When I asked him why he and Sonje did not give tango in Austin a try, he said he would love to, but at the moment he was just too busy. I knew that Mel would always be too busy to tango, just as he would always be too busy to write his memoirs, because his mind kept him on a different dance floor. Only now that the music has stopped do I realize what a privilege it was to dance with him on it for a few precious moments.

  36. I am deeply saddened to learn of Mel’s death, I will miss him and offer Sonje, Amy, Nico and his granddaughters and friends my condolences.
    I met Mel Hinich in 1988 at the government department in the University of Texas, when the graduate advisor, Gary Freeman, suggested I should take his course in Spatial Theory. After that, we formed a partnership to participate in the first competitive Chilean elections in 1989.
    Since then, I accompanied Mel to the best restaurants in the country. He enjoyed so much the Chilean meat as well as the Cabernets. Mel really enjoyed Chile, it did not matter if you took him to the presidential palace (La Moneda) or the highest mountain in the hemisphere (the Aconcagua). For two decades, I accompanied him to two of his favorites activities: meeting powerful people and eating while talking about his amazing life.
    Mel was one of the most important persons in my life. With him we covered in conversations a very wide spectrum of subjects and our relationship was as varied as well, with highs and lows, but always intense and loyal. All of us who met him know how smart and unique he was. In Chile he created a large following with his students and their families, friends and students as well. We will all miss him.

  37. I was celebrating the Jewish New Year with my family when the tragic news about Mel’s untimely passing has reached me (thanks to Bob Molyneux). As I write these words I reflect on the many hours of conversations I had with Mel. I first met him during my PhD studies at UT Austin in the mid-1980s. Despite the gap between us in age and seniority, we quickly became friends and this friendship continued after I returned to Israel in 1986 and lasted for over 25 years, until this week. I often visited him in Austin and he visited me in Israel and in-between we exchanged frequent e-mails.

    Mel was not just my close friend. Through me and his other Israeli friends, he was a great friend of the State of Israel. He strongly believed in the Zionist dream of bringing the Jews back to their homeland some 2000 years after they were expelled from it. I even believe that deep inside, Mel had some regrets that he didn’t move to Israel early enough in his life and joined others in building the future for this young state.

    Ironically, Mel was a professor of “Government.” Instead, he should have been a professor of “Peoples.” For the most part, he hated governments and was highly critical of the incapable (often corrupt) leaders who led them. But he really loved people — regardless of their race, gender, religion and any other dividing lines that exist in our societies. The notes I read in this website reflect this very well — different people from different places in the world, representing different eras in Mel’s life, all attesting to his keen interest and love to people.

    To his family I say in Hebrew:

    “Sh’lo Ted’o Od Tzaar” — May you know no more sorrow,

    and to Mel:

    “Nu’ch Be’shalom Al Miskavcha” — rest in peace in your final resting place.

    Boaz Golany, Rosh Hashanna 5771, Haifa Israel

  38. I knew Mel only through his emails, yet I think that over the years friendship has developed between us. It all started in a very inconspicuous and mundane way. Once I saw a comment of his on a forum I used to visit and replied to it. Later I wrote to him directly and it is how we kept in touch exchanging a large amount of emails all of which I have preserved and will keep as the most precious memory of this fine and remarkable man.
    The most fascinating moment in our correspondence came when he told me about his family background. I live in Poland and Mel’s parents were Jewish emigrants from two small, predominantly Jewish towns in the eastern part of Poland. His mother was born in Biala Podlaska and his father in Bielsk Podlaski. Doing some research for him on this two places I found an old WWI picture with a little smiling girl in it. Mel was astonished. She did look exactly like his mother in her youth. He said he would see again her older picture to make sure it was her. But, alas, he never told about his conclusion and as we went on to other things I forgot to ask him again. But from his surprise I inferred I found for him the earliest picture of his mother whom he loved very much. I was really happy about that small contribution to his family history. As to his his uncles, aunts and the rest of the two families that remained in Poland they all perished in the death camps of Sobibor and Treblinka.
    I know that it was his dream to come here and visit the places where his parents and their relatives were born and grew up. He told me he wanted to see them with his own eyes. He visited many exotic places in the world but, unfortunately, his dream to visit the two small towns where his family comes from has never come true.
    I’ll remember him as one of the most fascinating persons I have ever met and definitely in the days to come all the memories of our written conversations and in particular the last e-mail that I have failed to answer on time will be revived in my mind once again. People like Mel are not born every day and so when they die they leave a big hole in our soul’s horizon and a feeling of terrible sorrow.

  39. I met Mel when we were graduate students at Stanford, in January 1963. He taught me a lot about America – I came from Israel, and Mel was one of my first American friends.

    We kept in touch after getting our degrees, and visited one another occasionally. Then I went on a Sabbatical to Austin in 1982, and, by chance, Mel moved there the same year, so that we spent a lot of time together.

    The contacts have been quite intensive since then, and I have always appreciated the fresh, non-conformist analyses of Mel, which ranged over many fields, including both US politics, Israeli politics, and the world at large. His views were unorthodox sometimes, and the insights were very interesting. It made one think again and look at issues with a fresh eye.

    Rest in Peace, Mel

  40. “As if driven by an unseen motor…” is a description I read that I think applies to Mel’s mind. I met Mel 7 years ago while writing a paper on risk. He was incredibly generous to this overreaching undergrad. Later, I informally took his political economy and time series courses as an excuse for us to write and research together.

    One thing many of us will remember and miss was Mel’s strong opinions about everything. If we were both in Texas, we spoke daily about work — his, mine, joint. He handed me more wisdom about craft and art than I could possibly put to use in this lifetime. Later, when I was out of school, we’d have a whiskey and take apart papers line-by-line. People call Mel a curmudgeon, which he certainly was, but the other side of that is that if he was kind, it came from a genuine place.

    I know how much he loved Amy and Sonje and his granddaughters. The loss to them is unfathomable. Today I half expected him to call.

    This dear friend of ours will be missed immensely.

    Corwin Priest

  41. Loraine Cisternas Garcia

    I met professor Hinich in Chile 2008. In that time, I was looking advice for studying public policy in US. I had serious problems speaking English (actually I still have), and I felt so terrifying to speak with him; a prestigious researcher who did me the honor of receiving me.
    When I arrived to his temporary office in Chile he was working. He asked me to set and we started to talk. When we finished our conversation he gave me a big smile and told me: “I’m sure you will be accepted in some US university… but you need to improve your English, please!!” Obviously, he was right.
    I not only took his advice about English’s classes, but also took that big smile… the smile which always was in our conversations… even in the last one, when we talked about my first year as a Carnegie Mellon’ student.
    It has been a pleasure and an honor to meet so great person, so smart, so kind soul… I will continue my way full of pleasant memories of him…
    Professor Hinich, everyone who knew you will miss you. In this new level of knowledge, the final level of knowledge indeed, I deserve you an enjoyable trip.
    God bless you.


  42. I am deeply saddened to learn of Mel’s death.

    I became aware of Melvin Hinich in the summer of 1995 I think. My adviser, William Barnett, suggested Barry Jones and I should take a look at the bispectral tests developed by a friend of his. Barry and I spent the next several months trying to become familiar with the frequency domain, Volterra transforms and the like in order to understand the bispectral tests. We were naturally excited to meet Mel when he visited Bill that fall. I won’t speak for Barry, but I also had some amount of trepidation, as Bill had almost whispered that, “Mel is really smart.” To put that in perspective, Bill is literally a ‘rocket scientist’ having worked on the Saturn moon rockets, so meeting anyone he referred to in hushed tones as ‘really smart’ was bound to be a little intimidating.

    I don’t remember the whole conversation with Mel that first afternoon in Bill’s office. Not surprisingly it covered a lot of ground. What I remember clearly is the end. Bill said he had a class to go teach and asked Mel if he would like to give a guest lecture. Mel said sure and walked down to the class room. After an introduction, Mel placed his little folio he carried at that time on the desk and told the class, “Well, the time domain and the frequency domain are dual spaces, so after you think about it a little, whatever you can do in the time domain, you can do in the frequency domain.” With that succinct intro, he launched into a full lecture on the frequency domain. The lecture was amazing, although I am sure it went over the heads of the actual class who had not been preparing for it during the previous several months. For Barry and I, it was a goldmine. I went back over my notes several times and I never found a tilde out of place. I know Mel had lectured on the topic previously, but to give such a clear, organized, broad and error free lecture cold with no notes was incredible.

    In the ensuing years, as we used Mel’s code, he always made himself available to help, whether on a big think conceptual question or minor minutiae about a particular function in a subroutine. Somewhere along the way, I lost my trepidation and Mel became a treasured mentor and friend despite the gap in our ages. He would usually stop by when he came to DC to visit Bob. I always enjoyed our talks and he always both challenged and supported me at the same time. I always knew his advice on any problem I faced with my research was only an e-mail away.

    I will really miss Mel even though I didn’t see him as often as I would have liked. Every year Mel would send me an e-mail on my birthday and I would return the favor on his. He always seemed genuinely pleased I had remembered. Being treated by this intellectual giant as a peer, which was clearly ludicrous (Mel had I think five separate first-class vitas), is a privilege I will always cherish. The fact that Mel was willing to treat a wet behind the ears grad student that way says a lot about Mel as a man beyond his intellectual gifts. While I cannot match Mel’s intellect, I strive to match the curiosity with which he approached life.

    It is common to say that the world has become a little darker, when someone dies. I won’t try to figure out how much darker with Mel’s death. But I know, and I am sure anyone who met Mel will agree, the world is a lot less smart with him gone.

    Be well Mel.

    Travis Nesmith

  43. That came as a real surprise, Mel, since I had always expected you to make another visit to China and share with us so many brilliant thoughts. I cannot forget the first time I met you in Burdine Hall sometime in Autumn 1995, when I restarted my graduate career; I felt flattered when you called me “physicist” while my highest qualification for that profession was only a postdoc, and immediately realized that you belonged to the type of person inclined to discover and confirm values in others. Although you were my mentor for both master and Ph.D., I never remembered and never felt like calling you “Prof. Hinich” since your frank and easy-going manner had never allowed that kind of formality. I felt specially attached to you since we both came to this hot, southern city from Carnegie-Mellon, and loved to hear you tell stories about those “good old days.”
    Thank you for being always so generous and supportive, thank you for bailing me out during difficult times that a graduate student occasionally had to endure, thank you for often expressing your care and concern for my country, and thank you for giving all of us such vivid experience and accurate knowledge of spatial theory. We cannot run your code here because we don’t have real elections, much less real data for crunching, but the idea behind it is still immensely useful for analyzing our situations. And I do hope (and believe) that someday even the Chinese will be using your powerful analytical tool.
    May you rest in heavenly peace. Your characteristic smile will always stay in my memory.

  44. Tracy Renner called me out of the blue Wednesday morning right before my IEEE conference call.

    She said, “I have bad news.”

    We then shared Mel stories, like many here. We’d lost a friend and mentor.

    I met Mel Hinich at the beginning of what would turn out to be the most difficult period in my life. I arrived at UT in the Fall of 1990 with a degree in English and four amalgam fillings in my mouth, one of which would go on to crack, leak mercury and slowly leave me severely autoimmune over the next decade. Turns out you’re never supposed to put these into people with severe bruxism or a preexisting autoimmune condition. I had both, but there’s no federal regulation covering that.

    I never finished the poli sci doctorate but I can recall sitting there in a doctor’s office one day in 2001 being told by an internist that there was no “measurement error” in any way associated with the dozens of lab results he’d just handed me.

    “These are perfectly good test results,” he kept repeating.

    I just wanted to calculate the odds one of the results was wrong. I could barely talk at the time and the internist used that to seize the offensive, accusing me of personally attacking him. He then referred me to a psychiatrist even though he was unable to tell me what mental condition causes your eyebrows to fall out and your face to fill up with fluid.

    I sat there perfectly calm, albeit in excruciating pain. In fact, I felt relief. I finally knew what was going on. I remembered all those class discussions of T.S. Kuhn we had with Tulis about scientific revolutions and the socialization processes involved. I started remembering conversations about banking regulation and the FDA I’d had with Mel when I’d been more lucid. We had spent long hours talking not about the possibility of what technology could be but rather what it often wound up becoming and the politics involved.

    The doctor had just lied to me about a basic scientific fact because he didn’t “believe” it. That’s ideology for you.

    I further wondered, “If this doctor is lying to me about something medical, how will I know and what penalty might he suffer? That’s a hell of an agent-loss problem right there. How can patients ever know enough to supervise a doctor’s work on their own? Where’s Edwards Deming with his quality control? What? I’m not as important as a Toyota Corolla?”

    Between my father’s experience teaching medical torts in Louisiana and what Mel had told me about drug approval and prescription, I quickly came to the correct conclusion that actual medical treatments had little to do with the weight of optimal scientific evidence.

    I never thought game theory and abstract ideas about information asymmetry would save my life, but they did. I took what I learned about political economy at UT, looked for inefficiencies in how medicine processed new research results and went to work. I started reading medical papers, applied the nonlinear modeling I’d picked up to genetic networks and my condition only got better from there.

    I last saw Mel over Thanksgiving in Austin. It’s only been in the last few years I’ve been able to travel around a little. We drove out for a family dinner and stopped off on Friday to visit Mel. It was the first and only time he got to meet my parents and we all enjoyed it. My parents are both certified fraud examiners so we talked about everything from the rickety banking system to “modern” medicine.

    Mel never stopped encouraging me to get better, to finish with my medical research articles and to reapply to finish graduate school. With the news of his death, that goal looks impossibly distant today.

    There aren’t many people you can tell, “Hey! I got mercury poisoning thanks to the government!” who don’t look at you a little funny after that. Mel never did. We had a lot of interesting discussions on and off about inefficiencies in the medical industry and drew parallels to the poor quality control in financial derivatives.

    It’s funny to study something intensely for several years, think you’re the only one in the world to come to a certain realization and then there would be Mel thinking the same thing even though he came at it from a completely different angle. And he did it twenty years earlier.

    Fifteen years ago I published the first public article outlining how encryption could be used across a telecommunications network to protect digitally, copyrighted goods (“telerights”). I had long conversations about the topic with Mel and he encouraged me to pursue it strictly because it was about property rights and no one had ever really looked at digital piracy as an economic development problem at that time, much less thought about the security issues around it. If it weren’t for him, Tse-min Lin and Brian Roberts, I doubt I would have gotten it written.

    This summer, I found out an IEEE committee had finally been convened to consider the issue of digital personal property and promulgate a standard (P1817). Mel gave me some encouraging words and passed around the call for participation to his extensive network of contacts while he gushed with enthusiasm over his new Kindle. I’m sure the electronics world owes him a debt for this and many other small favors.

    I also recall his generous help with another, earlier paper in the LBJ School Journal comparing the costs of software incompatibility across different platforms to the high tariff barriers Latin American nations had erected to keep capital from moving across borders.

    That was my best work at UT and Mel was always a part of it. Mel Hinich never told me, “Stop. That’s not your area of expertise.” You meet plenty of ignorant people in life, even on occasion in academia. In many ways, Mel was the complete opposite of that internist whose advice would have killed me. Mel was inquisitive and as friendly as he was fearless. I’ve been blessed with encountering a few people like that in my academic career, and it’s obvious that the others writing here have too.

    I can think of a thousand reasons I should be dead today. Mel Hinich is one of many reasons I’m still here.

    My family’s condolences go out to his family.

  45. I am Associate Professor at the University of Evry in France. I have never met Prof. Hinich but I knew him through his writing, articles and books. I have used a lot of his publications to develop my research topics. I like his papers and I am very saddened by this news. My condolences.

  46. Mel’s passing was a big shock to me. It was a great honor and pleasure for me to meet Mel in person during his visit to Beijing University in 2006. My supervisor Professor Qianfan Zhang, who finished his PhD under Mel’s supervision, introduced me to him. I accompanied Mel on a brief tour to Tiananmen Square and Summer Palace. I remember him talking about Shakespeare’s works and the impact Mongolian leaders had on China. My regret was that my ignorance on both topics must have disappointed him, although he never made me feel that way.

    Mel was an outstanding scholar, needless to say, and a knowledgeable man with tons of curiosity, always willing to learn and share. In a previous email, he mentioned that he would like to visit my school in Victoria BC for some presentations. His plan did not become real and now I am sitting in sadness, knowing that I will never have a chance to see him again.

    Rest in peace, Mel. You will be truly missed by us all.

  47. I met Mel Hinich some years ago on the streets of Pittsburgh. I was in town for a conference at Carnegie-Mellon and he was in town to renew old acquaintances there (unrelated to the conference). I stopped him and asked for directions–not seeing (from behind) who he was. We immediately started talking about mutual interests and all sorts of other things. He then decided that I had not seen enough of Pittsburgh so he took me on a walking tour where we walked and talked of this and that (more that than this). It was a truly remarkable afternoon–and we did run into each other from time to time but this initial meeting showed me how Mel would want to be remembered: as a real mensch.

  48. The first time I met Mel in person was at the Summer Political Methodology meeting in 1998, at Texas A&M (the only one I ever saw him attend). I was a graduate student at the time and had several time series / political science papers under review and was nervous about them. I was really nervous about meeting him and talking to him about my work. Despite those trepidations, it was one of the most productive conversations of my nascent career. He counseled me on publishing, career development, etc. — all while we skipped a presentation in the lobby of the Bush School at TAMU (apologies to the presenter if you read this).

    I have read a large portion of Mel’s work over the last decade because of my work in political science, research methods, and time series. What has struck me about it is that in many cases “the wheel has been reinvented.” Mel did many of the things that some of us are working on 20, 30, or more years ago. His legacy is this body of work — across political science, time series, statistics, etc. (how many people in political science do you know who have his reputation in statistics?)

    I last saw Mel in February when I gave a talk at Austin. He was not able to attend the talk, but was very interested in it and subsequent work. I was sad he did not make that talk, but then again he could read the papers, and had. We had dinner (for Chinese New Year) with his colleagues and students. He asked about my work, as I did about his. Even over dinner, I learned about how his work informed mine and mine his. It was a real intellectual, and academic exchange that I will never forget. We exchanged a series of emails and references to different bodies of work to update each other after the meeting. Even before Mel’s passing, I have probably recounted it a dozen or more times to my own co-authors and colleagues. This was the kind of interchange that is not the same in modern social media.

    This page, and someone ahead of me in the comments referred to Mel as a curmudgeon. That term is correct. He was, and it was beneficial to the disciplines (plural) to which he contributed. Mel wanted things to move forward, to build on his work, to criticize his work, and make it better. That is what he (would) want us to do.

    As someone doing Bayesian time series analysis, I really wish we had Mel’s take on the comment made by Mike Belongia in these postings: what really does the Bayesian weight of evidence mean, how do we measure it, and how do we do it for time series data? Sounds like a series of questions Mel would have loved and I wish he were here to help solve them.

    Requiescat in pace, Mel and condolences to your family.

    Patrick Brandt
    Associate Professor
    School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences
    The University of Texas, Dallas

  49. Claudio A. Bonilla

    I can not believe yet that one of my closest friends is gone. We had more than three decades of age difference but still we were two real friends. I was so lucky to meet such a great person and to be able to spend time with him.
    I still remember the year 2001 when, as a Ph.D. student in economics in Texas, I contacted Mel via mail to talk about an idea that I had. Mel responded to me in 5 minutes with an invitation to go to his office. I was surprised for the rapid response, but I was still more surprised from the lecture Mel gave me about Chilean politics, the parties, the mistakes of the 89 campaign, the names and the psychological profiles of the presidential candidates. Obviously, I ended up working with him and I still feel that was the best decision I made while in Texas.
    Mel never stopped visiting me twice a year in Chile. The last visit was three weeks ago. We talked about everything, from economics to politics. From the love to our families to what an academic life means.
    Mel was a special character; he was so involved in intellectual activities. I remember that several years ago I ask Mel about the way he organizes himself during the day to do research. Mel replied to me “I do not understand your question.” I went “Dr. Hinich, at what time do you work?” I was interested in seeing if I could improve my own organization to be more effective. Mel surprised me with his answer as always, “Claudio, I am always working.” I then realized that it was impossible to try to imitate his ways of working, he was always theorizing and thinking deeply about social or statistical problems.
    Well, I hope my intellectual role model and my good friend rest in peace now. I will always miss him. I am sure that I will never meet someone so special again.

  50. Houston H. Stokes

    I first met Mel Hinich in 1987 when he came to UIC and gave a seminar on his bispectrum test for nonlinearity. He gave me his code and I applied it to the residuals of the gas furnace data made famous by Box-Jenkins for transfer function analysis and Tiao-Box for VAR modeling. Evidence from the Hinich test showed third order nonlinearity. A number of years before, Harry Roberts had remarked to me “there was something funny about these series” but until the Hinich test, I did not have good evidence for the nature of the problem since cross correlation diagnostic tests suggested the models were suitable.

    The Hinich (1982) test involved selecting an appropriate bandwidth, which I thought was more complicated than what was needed. Mel accepted my suggestion that the best way to proceed was to estimate the test over a range of admissible bandwidths; later, my student Jin-Man Lee worked out critical values for the averaged test. The immediate problem was to try to select a nonlinear model that would clean the series. This proved harder than it appeared and Mel made many trips to Chicago while we worked on the problem that was finally solved with a MARS model. Just this year (2010) Mel and I finally published a joint paper on the results of the MARS model in comparison to GAM, random forests, ACE and projection pursuit approaches.

    The last time I saw Mel was when I took him to lunch at a good Chicago restaurant in the spring of 2010. Mel was unique. His research was not in an intellectual silo. He knew statistics, Fortran software, political science, economics and politics in all of which he excelled. He gave away his software programs and copies of his papers and roamed the world touching base with many researchers, often in their homes. When I learned what had happen to Mel I was immediately filled with a deep sadness. I had lost a friend who I respected. His death was so sudden and unexpected. Clearly, Mel will not soon be forgotten by those who knew him and by those who will read his contributions in the years ahead.

  51. Condolences to the Hinich family, and to students and scholars across statistics, econ, govt.

    Mel, I benefited from your honesty about many things, including your chosen profession in academia. Thank you for the many things that I didn’t have to find out the hard way.

    Thank you for keeping in touch for years after my PhD… thru my post-doc years, and now the Google years.

    Hazem Ghobarah
    Your PhD student, 1996-1999

  52. Mel’s touch was far and wide. In Calgary Alberta, he will be missed by myself and my family. He was truly a motivating individual who showed us how to be our best. He always liked an evening of port and conversation.

  53. I didn’t spend a lot of time with Mel over the years, but our paths did cross with some regularity (including the University of Queensland in Australia). On those occasions — often a PolMeth summer meeting where I was exploring terrain well known to Mel (spatial models, exotic dynamic models) — he was always gracious and generous, yet intellectually as tough as nails. On those dimensions he was in very rare company.

    We will miss him greatly.

  54. Mel is perhaps the most interesting person I ever knew . . . irritating at times until you saw the twinkle in his eyes and the hint of a smile. I loved our long conversations over a sandwich at lunch; I wish now there had been many more. He was a true friend and someone I’ll never forget.

  55. Apostolos Serletis

    Mel was a great friend, one I could always count on. I will miss our email exchanges and his annual visits to spend time together and talk about almost anything. I will miss having a glass of wine with Mel, I will miss his friendship, and I will miss his support. I will miss Mel all the time and will never forget him.

  56. My first encounter with Mel was reading his “A Mathematical Model of Policy Formation in a Democratic Society” (with Davis; in Berndt, ed., Mathematical Applications in Political Science II, 1966). I still remember vividly how that article opened up a totally new perspective for a graduate student in Kansas who just switched from electrical engineering to political science and was trying to study politics using an anthropological approach. Partially influenced by that perspective, I moved to Minnesota and was writing a dissertation in which I used spectral analysis to investigate cycles in American presidential elections. I thought I was one of the first in political science to use frequency domain techniques. Little did I know that I would soon join Mel in a department in which he was teaching a time series course entirely in the frequency domain. For me, reading Mel’s work was a defining moment for my personal career. I have been so proud to be a colleague and personal friend of yours, Mel!

  57. I knew OF Mel for years, of course, through mutual friends and his writing. But I only met him once when he visited Eugene about a year ago. We went out to dinner and talked about decision theoretic takes on Shakespeare plays pretty much the whole time, continuing the discussion by email. Wonderful fun, far and away the most entertaining dinner I remember, one that inspired me to start a file…

    I wish I’d been lucky enough to have him as a teacher. But then, I guess, I did–for a little while, at least.

  58. Bob Molyneux introduced me to Mel when I was working at my first job as a librarian at Virginia Tech. I was in my late 20s, green as could be, and played the flute. Mel played bassoon and wanted someone to play duets with so every Sunday morning we got together and played Bach–it didn’t matter what Bach but it had to be Bach. I played the melody line and he played the continuo; over and over we played some of the same great works until they became part of me. To this day, whenever I hear certain works, I’m carried back to his living room, light pouring in, an avocado tree sitting behind the couch, playing Bach. When we finished, Sonje made us coffee, Amy skipped down the stairs, Bob came over, and we all chatted. At that time I just thought he was a nice man and a good bassoon player; after a while I realized he was a great mind, a wonderful person and still a good bassoon player. And I’ll still think of him when I hear certain Bach.

  59. I am deeply saddened by Mel’s tragic death; the world is a smaller and poorer place without him.

    I first met Mel in the spring of ’76 as a Master’s student in the Ag. Econ. program at Va. Tech. While Mel wrote equations with one hand and smoked cigars with the other, we scribbled notes and chewed tobacco with equal vigor (I still smile when I recall that classroom scene). What struck me then, and will stay with me always, is that Mel always had time for anyone genuinely engaged in the world of ideas and was as generous as anyone I’ve ever met with his time and knowledge.

    Years later we became acquainted again and began to collaborate on research projects and talk at least weekly on the phone; this does not include the numerous emails in between on every subject of interest. Our calls, as others have noted, demonstrated Mel’s vast command of subjects that ranged from Shakespeare to the many academic disciplines in which he published. These calls often were the highlight of my week.

    In our last conversation, on the Saturday before his death, we were discussing a book I had just sent to him, a biography of Alan Turing. I had sent the book because it contained material on two subjects of interest, I.J. Good, his former colleague at Va. Tech and the concept of “weight of the evidence” that Turing and Good had tried to develop as something distinct from pure Bayesian inference. I had told Mel that I always had been puzzled as to why Bayesians, such as Arnold Zellner, never seemed to cite Good’s work and why, reciprocally, Good never seemed to cite Zellner and traditional Bayesians. Was “weight of the evidence” really so distinct as a concept that it could not be reconciled with Bayesian inference? If it was, why was it? And if it was, what might it offer to economists that Bayesian inference could not? These all were questions that Mel and I were about to enjoy discussing in future conversations and I know most everyone else posting something to this board has a similar story to tell — and now those conversations will go unfinished, those papers will go unwritten and all of us will be diminished by not having the pleasure of having Mel’s company to enrich our lives. Mel had so much more to teach and I had so much more to learn from him.

    This is a truly sad day and an enormous loss for his family and friends.

  60. For most of Mel’s friends, I suspect, his passing will be a signal event in their lives just as his coming into their lives may have been.

    I met Mel when I worked in the library at Virginia Tech and he was on the Economics faculty. That would have been about 1973 or 74. Mel befriended me and we started getting together once a week pretty regularly to listen to Bach, smoke cigars, drink, and chat. He was the big time full professor and I was a newly minted librarian but status wasn’t Mel’s thing and we were friends from that time visiting frequently and now with email we corresponded regularly. He sent emails with all manner of links and observations on a staggering array of subjects.

    I have two happy recollections of him that I remember on this sad day. I remember vividly when he suggested that I work on a doctorate. Huh? Me? One of my favorite recollections came a few years later. I picked him up at the airport for my dissertation defense—he had graciously agreed to serve on my committee—and he came down the escalator, dived for a water fountain and came up like a cresting whale with water all over his face – just so Mel, isn’t it?– I can see it in my mind’s eye so clearly. He then looked at me and said that I had done a great job on the dissertation and that he was sorry he had nothing to do with it. That kind of caught me and it took a bit to think why and I realized and told him there was nothing that happened in that dissertation that he had not prepared me for. Mel was always teaching. Always piling the kindling and looking to light the fire. Mentoring. All over the world. Friends everywhere. Always working.

    Our last call was Monday night—who knew it was our last? And we were making plans for his next visit here. If I have this right, I have moved 10 times since I left Blacksburg and Mel visited me at each place I lived. Never again, alas.

    The introduction to this memorial page referred to him as a polymath and that is an accurate characterization, I think, but there was more. Mel was complex and brilliant, but I will remember most fondly that he was a Mensch.

    Today I mourn the loss of one of my two Great Teachers, my staunch and loyal friend, and my colleague, Melvin J. Hinich. May he rest in peace.

    Sonje, Amy, Rachel, Caitlin, and Nico are in my thoughts. Comfort to them.

  61. In terms of what it can mean to be a research professor and an authentic intellectual, Mel was the ‘real deal.’ I don’t expect to see his like again.

  62. My main interaction with Prof. Hinich was during the Department of Government’s weekly coffee hours. We had some great conversations about a wide variety of topics. There was something really warm and endearing about Prof. Hinich. He was a very approachable man, even if his vast corpus of knowledge on all sorts of subjects might have been a bit intimidating. I’m glad I had a chance to get to know him a little bit. My sincerest condolences to his family.

  63. Mel was both a mentor and a friend. As a mentor he gave the most important resources that one can provide: time and interest. Mel didn’t simply tell me what to do, he showed me how to do it and more importantly discussed why certain problems are worth our interest and energy. As a friend, Mel visited us several times over the years, and we always enjoyed the good conversation and company over dinner and well into the evening. There are few scholars of Mel’s intellectual ability, and perhaps none that have made so many important contributions to so many fields. I shall miss Mel very much, and my thoughts are with his family.

  64. I first became acquainted with Mel in the summer of 1974 when I visited VPI & SU at the Center for Study of Public Choice. He visited my home in Morpeth, Northumberland on two occasions, flying in from The Netherlands where he was tracking the movement of Soviet submarines in the North Sea. The combination of his musician’s ear and his technical skills was perfect for this task. I remember once taking him to view Hadrian’s Wall. While visiting a Roman fortress, Mel commented in his inimitable style: ‘Huh! All I see here are stones. We got da stones in da States!’

    I have greatly valued his scholarship in public choice through the decades and still use “Analytical Politics” (a book that he co-authors with Mike Munger). I lost personal contact with him in recent years, which was my loss, but I shall always remember his keen mind and comforting anti-government instinct. And of course, I shall never forget that voice…How could I? I was exposed to it so very often and for so long!

    I met Sonje and Amy many years ago, when Amy was quite small and played with our young daughters; my wife and I still treasure those times. Sonje and Amy are in my thoughts at this sad time of tragic loss.

    Mel played a major role in the development of public choice and was rightly anointed to the presidency of the Public Choice Society. Except for one recent aberration, that Society has never endorsed the vote motive! Mel approved, as I do, of that wise restraint.

  65. During my seven years in Austin, Professor Hinich and I had minimal contact; even as his TA I don’t think I ever spoke with him for more than ten minutes. He was a great figure, the weight of whose few words had impressed me, but not somebody I expected I’d ever call a friend. One day, out of the blue it seemed, he befriended me. I was foundering in my dissertation research, and he called me to have a drink. I was in Tokyo, his global network of collaborators often left him with some hours to get through on a stop-over there, and suddenly he was not just the brilliant curmudgeon, but a warm and sympathetic companion, fatherly but a lot more fun than my own loving father. Over the next seven years or so, he became a real bright spot in my life — extremely, but extremely, supportive, and always a delight to talk to. When I had nothing to say, I’d sit back and enjoy listening, secure in the feeling that he had enough stories and insights to last me for decades. And when I had some crumb to offer, it was a pleasure to watch him tuck in, as if the fatted calf could not have been more welcome nourishment.

    His death is absurdly untimely, for me. I felt I’d just started to know him, and I can’t help wondering what we’ll talk about the next time he calls. I assumed he’d be mentoring me for many years to come. Untimely, too, in that his best work was ahead of him; I looked forward to the manuscript that would do justice to his curiosity.

  66. I am stunned and deeply saddened by the news of Dr. Hinich’s–Mel’s–death. A group of people (including Daron Shaw, Brian Brox, and others) were just trading Mel Hinich stories at UT’s APSA reception. Brian recalled that Mel repeatedly urged him to use a marvelous Chilean data set, to which Brian would repeatedly reply, “That would be great, if I worked on Chile.”

    I read an independent studies course with Mel that could charitably be called “Topics in Statistics and Mel Hinich’s Life.” It was the summer of 2004 and he was working out of his North Austin Department of Defense office. Getting in to see him was something like the opening sequence of “Get Smart.” My idea was to bone up on some areas I wanted to learn more about (especially time series) and learn spatial politics. So I would sit down with him, ask a few questions, and tell him what I understood of the readings he recommended. He would then say, “Yeah, you get this.” This lasted ten minutes. Then he would regale me for 50 minutes with his ideas on pedagogy and the academy (he was looking for ways to incorporate Shakespeare, from whom he could quote at length, into his political science teaching) and on stories from his life. He had had some connection to Pinochet’s economic cabinet, which I found both opprobrious and strangely fascinating.

    Needless to say, I got an earful of Mel’s opinions on many topics, statistical and otherwise. He was especially disdainful of anything to do with measurement, declaring that Bollen and other innovators of Structural Equation Modeling falsely claimed that all parameters in their models were identified. When I told him I wanted to study measurement error, he said, “You might spend about five minutes on it.” Surprisingly, he was a big supporter of SPSS, which he claimed was the best commercial statistical package–though I’m sure he himself found programming things in C easier than point-and-click dialogue boxes.

    It goes without saying that Mel was a brilliant man–one of the smartest people I have known. He was also a kind one, at least to me. Mel’s encouragement helped me to believe in my abilities at a time when I wasn’t too sure of them. He always made himself available to talk and answer questions, even ones that must have appeared frustratingly basic to him.

    I had planned on writing him to bring him up to date and thank him for his guidance. Now it’s too late. If some form of consciousness does survive the body after death, I’m sure Mel is trying to figure out the dimensionality of metaphysical space.

    Requiescat in pace.

  67. Mel had a thing about open doors. To him an open door was a personal invitation to wander in and talk, and talk, and talk. For some this was cause to get out the Loctite and seal their doors. For me it was an excuse to buy the most durable doorstop I could to keep my door open. Look for it on eBay. I will miss him sorely.

  68. Mel would always drop by my office to chat, and I was always impressed by the range of his knowledge and experiences. He had just returned from Brisbane and was telling me stories about his time in Australia just last week.
    I will miss him and his wisdom.
    Requiescat in pace, Mel.

  69. Janet Box-Steffensmeier

    I was a doctoral student in the Government Department, graduated in 1993, and Mel was a member of my dissertation committee. I knew right away that Mel was a scholar with incredible reach when my spouse, who was a grad student in the Electrical Engineering Dept, was also reading work by Mel Hinich. Quite a shock for a naïve first year graduate student!

    I was in the time series class that Erik Devereux so aptly described. It was amazing to watch him lecture for 3 hours nonstop without a single note on this complex topic. I would add that Mel would bring his working papers and manuscripts to class. What an eye opener – realizing that the accomplished Mel Hinich’s first draft was not perfect either. This is exactly what he wanted us to understand and it was a lesson that made a deep impression on all of us – boosting our confidence to keep trying.

    Mel took me to my first Political Methodology Meeting, saying he thought it would be a good fit for me. He sat by me, carefully scribbling and “whispering” comments, critiques, and importantly, explanations. He was a tour de force at those meetings. In spite of his stature, he graciously took time to introduce me to the “Who’s Who” of that conference. Indeed, as Mel expected – the group has been a wonderful, welcoming, good fit for me.

    It was a privilege to know such a brilliant person. My condolences to the Government Department and the Hinich family.

  70. I can hardly believe this. He had bought airline tickets to come to Kansas in two weeks to help my students during my sabbatical. He was my best friend for 30 years. I am speechless.

  71. Dr Hinich and I used to have conversations about the Middle East in the halls of Burdine. He was friendly, inquisitive, and open-minded. I liked and respected him, and am very saddened by this news. I wish his family much strength and courage. My condolences!

  72. I met Mel when he came over to Texas A&M to give a talk when I was Head of Political Science there in the late 80s and early 90s. I found him always open to a good idea, and after that first meeting I would occasionally come over to Austin with a six-pack and we would talk. That became a regular occurrence, a couple of times a year, and continued until week before last. I’ll really miss him, and those regular beers.

  73. Mel was a foul weather friend. If you needed a friendly shoulder to cry on, or to just listen to you….Mel was not your guy. He would likely interrupt and say “You think YOU have it tough? HA! Let me tell you about how tough it used to be…”

    But if you were actually in trouble, or needed something intellectually, or wanted to talk seriously about ideas….Mel was the best. I spent thousands of hours listening to him, and arguing with him, and learning from him.

    If I had never met Mel, I can honestly say I would not be a successful academic. His insistence on working on big ideas, and on thinking deeply before writing, taught me not just how to be a scholar, but also how to think about the political world.

    Just the day before his death, he called me to talk about the book we are working on, a new edition of ANALYTICAL POLITICS. He was just back from a trip around the world, giving academic talks and seeing people. He laughingly called himself a “nervous adventurer,” always wanting to travel and learn new things. Mel had a child-like curiosity about the world, combined with the best analytic mind I have ever encountered.

    I can’t believe he is gone. To say that I will miss him is a profound understatement.

  74. Semei Coronado Ramírez

    Yo no fui alumno del profesor Hinich, sin embargo fui alumno de doctorado en México de uno de sus alumnos, el Dr. Leonardo Gatica. El Dr. Leonardo Gatica le comento al profesor Hinich la idea que tenía de utilizar el Biespectrum al caso de México. El Profesor Hinich le encanto la idea y vino a México a petición del Dr. Leonardo Gatica a enseñarme a entender su metodología. Fue la persona más amable que había conocido en mi vida. Tuvo la paciencia y el interés de ayudarme en mi tesis doctoral. Después de esa experiencia, tuve comunicación con el vía electrónica y comentarle las investigaciones que estaba realizando del cual recibí siempre retroalimentación. Este domingo tuve la fortuna de que llegará a conocer la finalización de una investigación, de la cual quedo muy satisfecho con ella. Siento un pesar que no haya podido ver la publicación de la investigación. Se fué un gran hombre, amigo y profesor muy querido entre nosotros. My condolences to the Hinich family

  75. I am an Aerospace Engineering student at UT who chose to double-major in Government as well. After investigating the profiles of the professors in the Department of Government, I was immediately intrigued by Dr. Hinich’s curriculum. He was truly a brilliant man whose work was very well respected. I was amazed by his genius in applying statistics and mathematics to the complex study of politics and the economy. I truly wish this unfortunate event would not have happened, as I was looking forward to absorbing as much knowledge as I could from this great professor. I had him for the TTH 12:30 – 2 class and I was among the last students who talked to him after lecture. I remember telling him I was going to write my semester research report over the Federal Aviation Administration and its regulations on commercial space transportation. I also remember asking him a question about my topic, and he looked at me puzzled. He smiled and nicely asked me to repeat my question. I guess I was nervous and just asked him too fast because his knowledge on the subject was extensive. He nicely answered my question, encouraged me to compile further information sources, and told me to have a great weekend. Dr. Hinich will be missed by his students, colleagues, and the entire community of intellectuals. My sincerest condolences go to the Hinich family.
    Rest in peace, sir.

  76. I can hardly believe the sad news.

    I first met Mel in the early 1990’s. I was working on detecting evolutionary change in economic processes and was interested in applying Mel’s bispectrum test for linearity in order to establish if the economic process was nonlinear. I clearly remember the enormous help and encouragement he gave to me – something that has always continued throughout our friendship.

    I can recall with pleasure the many visits that Mel made to Brisbane over the years. The most recent was early last month. Among my fondest memories are of the barbeques we use to have – ideal settings to sit back, relax, have a few drinks and talk about the many common interests we shared – about economics, statistics and politics/political economy. I also fondly remember Mel returning the favour when I visited Austin a few years ago. It was at this time that I had the pleasure of meeting Sonje and some of his close Austin friends, Tom, Geoff, Peter and Jim.

    Another interesting memory I have of Mel, is the large amount of travelling he did – a little astonishing considering he was a bit of a nervous flyer although he told me that this tended to settle once he arrived at the airport. I have fond memories of spending a week in Milan with Mel at the Polytechnical University and being hosted by him in the first class Heathrow lounge while we were waiting for connecting flights to USA and Australia, respectively.

    I have been lucky and privileged to work with Mel. The one thing that always struck me (and we actually joked about this) was that Mel was in the very lucky position of having a job which was also his favourite hobby. I know he really enjoyed programming (in Fortran) and working with real data. He always stressed to me the importance of working with real data and the limitations that this might impose upon the development and application of theory.

    He was also a renowned statistical theorist – his work on detecting meanshifts/structural change, defining the domains and correct normalisation of the bispectrum and trispectrum, testing for Gaussianity, linearity, time reversibility and aliasing, the use of asymptotic theory based on the products of higher order cumulant using indecomposable partitions, and bi-correlations and tri-correlations tests were important contributions in time series analysis. His work on the RMP model was also important.

    I also remember Mel as a personal friend. During July this year, I faced a hard time because of a loss within my own family. Mel kept in close contact with me via skype and helped me ease through this time. Indeed, our last skype contact was on sunday morning and I was setting up to skype him today when I heard the devastating news.

    Mel was someone you could depend on, a loyal friend who would go out of his way to help and encourage you. Mel, you will be sorely missed and we (your friends as well as academia) have lost a lot with your passing.

    To Sonje, Amy and family, both myself and my families thoughts are with you at this very sad time. We offer our heartfelt condolences to you.

  77. Chih-Cheng (Almond) Meng

    I should be the last advisee working with Professor Hinich in the Government Department (Spring 2010). I still remember that I hugged Mel and told him to “take good care of yourself” on the day that I passed my degree defense in February. Also, on the way to drive him home, I was sentimentally saying that “I don’t know when we will meet next time.” So sad, this goodbye is eternal. After I returned to Taiwan and informed him that I got a faculty job, he expressed his gladness and asked me to find a chance to invite him for some presentations. I knew that it would be always an occasion for our reunion after leaving Austin, I just didn’t know that the reality is so cruel and destroys my hope.

    As an international student at our program, I sometimes felt helpless in my study life. Fortunately, Mel was always standing by me from Day One until the last Day. Our relationship started with him serving as my faculty advisor before I advanced to candidacy, and finally he became my dissertation advisor. With this long relationship of master and apprentice, he offered me extreme freedom to find my research topics and always supported me as long as I needed any kind of resource from him. For my personal case, I earned too much from him, including my degree.

    Words are so limited to express my memory of Mel. Dear Dr. Hinich, although you will not able to read these messages, I just want to let you know: you are still living in my heart. You rest in peace, I will always miss you!

    Your student,

  78. I have collaborated and published with Mel for over a decade and he was a regular visitor to the School of Economics here at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia. Indeed, he was here only three weeks ago working with myself and Phil Wild. It is difficult to express how much sadness the news of his death brings. I have never met someone with such a strong grasp of so many different disciplines and capable of publishing at the top level in each. He was a pleasure to work with – he was a brilliant and highly original researcher and I feel very lucky to have collaborated with him. He was also great fun to be with – full of informed opinions and an ardent debater. Through him, I learned a great deal about modern America from the public choice perspective. It is difficult to contemplate the reality that I won’t be seeing him again and I offer my sincerest condolences to his family. He was a truly great academic and a wonderful person. He will be much remembered and sorely missed by Phil and I here at UQ.

  79. I was a doctoral student in the Government Department 1985 – 1993, and in residence in Austin until 1991. I didn’t take a course from Mel until I was nearly finished with course work and preparing for my comprehensive exams.

    The first course I took from Mel was his time series class, taught nearly entirely in the frequency domain (spectral analysis). It met 9 am – 12 pm once a week. Most of the students in the course were in the Economics doctoral program. As I arrived for the first lecture I noticed that one of the Economics students had arrived with three cans of Coca-Cola. I thought to myself, that’s odd — why did he do that?

    So Mel arrives, steps to the lectern without any notes, and lectures non-stop, incredibly coherently, for three hours without a break. Every hour, on the hour, I hear that, “pop, whoosh,” as that Economics student opened the next can of Coke.

    When the second class meeting rolled around, I too brought three cans of Coke with me.

    The entire semester was brilliant — Mel lecturing about a topic that seemed literally woven into the fiber of his being. I’ll never forget that magnificent educational performance.

    – Erik Devereux

  80. L. Matthew Vandenbroek

    Although I never took a class with Professor Hinich, I enjoyed many inspiring, funny (and yes, curmudgeonly) conversations with him during our graduate student happy coffee hours. I always enjoyed these talks, whether they were about grad school life, methodology or just everyday politics. Most of all, I’ll remember my awe as I struggled to comprehend his groundbreaking application of mathematics to the study of politics. So smart. So incredibly smart.

    My condolences to the Hinch family, and the entire political science family as well.

  81. Mel was one of my early acquaintances among the faculty during my tenure as a grad student. He quickly took me in and shared his knowledge. He served on my dissertation committee and always encouraged me in my work. I was with him at his house on several occasions discussing various statistical and time series issues and was co-authoring a paper with him upon his death. I will miss him and offer Sonje, his family, and the academy my condolences.

  82. Shafayet Faraizi

    How can one possibly find the rights words to say to encompass their feelings on such unexpected and unfortunate news? I sit here at this desk – with my fingers trembling as I press each button on the keyboard – with a sense of obligation and necessity to write for such a great man. I feel that I have to say something to describe how caring and involved of a professor he was, and yet I know that nothing I can put into words will properly describe such an amazing person. I stare at the picture of him above me and find myself at an ironic loss for words for a man with whom words came so freely, easily, and comfortably when I conversed with him.

    I was in Dr. Hinich’s 11-12:30 PM Politics and the Economy class. On Thursday of last week, we had a nice conversation as we boarded the elevator together. I told him just how overjoyed and enthusiastic I was to finally be in his course. I had been trying to get into his class for the past two semesters, and finally had my opportunity this fall. He was so friendly and I knew that this class and Dr. Hinich would well be worth the wait and anticipation. It saddens me when I think that the conversation in the elevator would be my last with such a distinguished and respectable man.

    Even though I was unable to finish the semester with Dr. Hinich as my professor, I was nonetheless extremely grateful for the few precious class sessions that I did have with him. He was a man well respected, appreciated, and loved by his peers, students, and colleagues alike, and this reputation was well deserved.

    Rest in peace, Dr. Hinich. We will all miss you!

    Shafayet Faraizi

  83. I was in Dr. Hinich’s Politics and the Economy class in 2008. As a professor he was both inspiring and warm. His work has greatly benefited all of us who love the study of politics. His death is a very big loss for the entire UT community.

add your thoughts