Founders of statistics

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Statistics is the theory and application of mathematics to the scientific method including hypothesis generation, experimental design, sampling, data collection, data summarization, estimation, prediction and inference from those results to the population from which the experimental sample was drawn. This article lists statisticians who have been instrumental in the development of theoretical and applied statistics.

Name Nationality Birth Death Contribution References
Graunt, John English 1620 1674 Pioneer of demography who produced the first life table [1]
Bayes, Thomas English 1702 1761 Developed the interpretation of probability now known as Bayesian probability [2]
Laplace, Pierre-Simon French 1749 1827 Co-invented Bayesian statistics. Invented exponential families (Laplace transform), conjugate prior distributions, asymptotic analysis of estimators (including negligibility of regular priors). Used maximum-likelihood and posterior-mode estimation and considered (robust) loss functions
Playfair, William Scottish 1759 1823 Pioneer of statistical graphics
Carl Friedrich Gauss German 1777 1855 Invented least squares estimation methods (with Legendre). Used loss functions and maximum-likelihood estimation
Quetelet, Adolphe Belgian 1796 1874 Pioneered the use of probability and statistics in the social sciences
Nightingale, Florence English 1820 1910 Applied statistical analysis to health problems, contributing to the establishment of epidemiology and public health practice. Developed statistical graphics especially for mobilizing public opinion. First female member of the Royal Statistical Society.
Galton, Francis English 1822 1911 Invented the concepts of standard deviation, correlation, regression [3][4]
Thiele, Thorvald N. Danish 1838 1910 Introduced cumulants and the term "likelihood". Introduced a Kalman filter in time-series
Peirce, Charles Sanders American 1839 1914 Formulated modern statistics in "Illustrations of the Logic of Science" (1877–1878) and "A Theory of Probable Inference" (1883). With a repeated measures design, introduced blinded, controlled randomized experiments (before Fisher). Invented optimal design for experiments on gravity, in which he "corrected the means". He used correlation, smoothing, and improved the treatment of outliers. Introduced terms "confidence" and "likelihood" (before Neyman and Fisher). While largely a frequentist, Peirce's possible world semantics introduced the "propensity" theory of probability. See the historical books of Stephen Stigler
Edgeworth, Francis Ysidro Irish 1845 1926 Revived exponential families (Laplace transforms) in statistics. Extended Laplace's (asymptotic) theory of maximum-likelihood estimation. Introduced basic results on information, which were extended and popularized by R. A. Fisher
Pearson, Karl English 1857 1936 Numerous innovations, including the development of the Pearson chi-squared test and the Pearson correlation. Founded the Biometrical Society and Biometrika, the first journal of mathematical statistics and biometry [5][6][7][8]
Spearman, Charles English 1863 1945 Extended the Pearson correlation coefficient to the Spearman's rank correlation coefficient [9]
Gosset, William Sealy (known as "Student") English 1876 1937 Discovered the Student t distribution and invented the Student's t-test [10]
Anderson, Oskar Johann Viktor (also known as Anderson, Oskar Nikolaevich) Russian, Bulgarian, German 1887 1960 A leading representative of the so-called Continental School of statistics. Invented the variate difference method for analyzing time series at the same time but independently from Gosset. A pioneer of random sampling in demographics and of quantitative methods applied to socio-economic sciences. [11][12][13][14]
Fisher, Ronald English 1890 1962 Wrote the textbooks and articles that defined the academic discipline of statistics, inspiring the creation of statistics departments at universities throughout the world. Systematized previous results with informative terminology, substantially improving previous results with mathematical analysis (and claims). Developed the analysis of variance, clarified the method of maximum likelihood (without the uniform priors appearing in some previous versions), invented the concept of sufficient statistics, developed Edgeworth's use of exponential families and information, introducing observed Fisher information, and many theoretical concepts and practical methods, particularly for the design of experiments [15][16][17]
Bonferroni, Carlo Emilio Italian 1892 1960 Invented the Bonferroni correction for multiple comparisons
Wilcoxon, Frank Irish-American 1892 1965 Invented two statistical tests: Wilcoxon rank-sum test and the Wilcoxon signed-rank test
Neyman, Jerzy Polish-American 1894 1981 Discovered the confidence interval and co-developed the Neyman–Pearson lemma [18]
Deming, W. Edwards American 1900 1993 Developed methods for statistical quality control [19]
Pearson, Egon English 1895 1980 Co-developed the Neyman–Pearson lemma of statistical hypothesis testing [20]
de Finetti, Bruno Italian 1906 1985 Pioneer of the "operational subjective" conception of probability. Used this as the basis for exposition of the Bayesian method of statistical analysis. Developed the representation theorem for exchangeable random variables showing that they are the basis of the IID model in statistics.
Kendall, Maurice English 1907 1983 Co-developed methods for assessing statistical randomness; invented Kendall tau rank correlation coefficient
Blackwell, David American 1919 2010 Co-developed Rao-Blackwell theorem and wrote one of the first Bayesian textbooks, Basic Statistics. [21]
Rao, Calyampudi Radhakrishna Indian 1920 Co-developed Cramér–Rao bound and Rao–Blackwell theorem, invented MINQUE method of variance component estimation. [22][23]
Cox, David English 1924 2022 Developed the proportional hazards model for the analysis of survival data [24]
Efron, Bradley American 1938 Invented the bootstrap resampling technique for deriving an empirical distribution of an estimate of a model parameter [25]

Founders of departments of statistics

The role of a department of statistics is discussed in a 1949 article by Harold Hotelling, which helped to spur the creation of many departments of statistics.[26]

Year Country University Founder References
1911 England University College London Pearson, Karl [6]
1929 Sweden Lund University Sven Dag Wicksell [27]
~1931 India Indian Statistical Institute Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis [28]
~1931 USA Columbia University Hotelling, Harold [29]
1935 USA George Washington University Weida, Frank [30][31]
1941 USA North Carolina State University Cox, Gertrude [32]
1942 Sweden Uppsala University Wold, Herman [33]
1947 USA Department of Biometry and Statistics, Cornell University Federer, Walter T. [34][35][36]
1948 USA Stanford University  — [37]
1948 India University of Mumbai M. C. Chakrabarti [38]
1949 USA University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill  — [39]
1949 USA Virginia Tech Harshbarger, Boyd [40]
~1950 Sweden Stockholm University  — [41]
1950 Israel Hebrew University of Jerusalem  — [42]
1953 India University of Pune Huzurbazar, V. S. [43]
1955 USA University of California, Berkeley Neyman, Jerzy [44]
1957 USA Harvard University Cochran, William G.
Mosteller, Frederick
1957 Australia University of Sydney Lancaster, Henry Oliver [47]
1958 USA University of Minnesota  — [48]
1959 USA Florida State University Ralph A. Bradley [49][50]
1960 USA University of Wisconsin–Madison George E. P. Box [51]
1962 USA Texas A&M University Hartley, Herman Otto [52]
1963 USA Yale University Anscombe, Francis [53][54]
1963 USA Purdue University  — [55]
1964 Bangladesh Institute of Statistical Research and Training Hussain, Q.M. [56]
1965 USA University of Iowa Hogg, Robert V. [57]
1966 Scotland University of Glasgow Aitchison, John
Silvey, David
1967 Canada University of Waterloo Sprott, David A. [59]
1968 USA Pennsylvania State University Bartoo, James [60]
1969 India Madras Christian College Gift Siromoney [61]
1969 Hong Kong University of Hong Kong Saw Swee Hock [62][63]
1970 USA Department of Biostatistics, University of Washington School of Public Health  — [64]
1973 USA Ohio State University Whitney, D. Ransom [65]
1973 Germany Universität Dortmund Eicker, Friedhelm [66]
1975 India Aligarh Muslim University S.M. Ali [1]
1979 Canada University of Toronto Donald A. S. Fraser [67]
1981 India Vidyasagar University Gain, Anil Kumar [68]
1982 Hong Kong Chinese University of Hong Kong Tong, Howell [69]
1984 India Banaras Hindu University Singh, S.N.
1985 USA University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Sacks, Jerome [70]
1986 USA Northwestern University Meyer Dwass [71]
1987 USA Rice University James R. Thompson [72]
1988 England University of Oxford Hinkley, D. V. [73]
1994 New Zealand The University of Auckland Scott, Alastair
Seber, George
1996 USA University of Virginia School of Medicine Harrell, Frank E. [74]
1997 USA University of Pittsburgh Sampson, Allan R. [75]
1998 USA University of California, Los Angeles Jan de Leeuw [76]

See also


  1. Willcox, Walter (1938) The Founder of Statistics. Review of the International Statistical Institute 5(4):321–328.
  2. "Thomas Bayes". Figures from the History of Probability and Statistics. University of Southampton. 
  3. "Francis Galton". Figures from the History of Probability and Statistics. University of Southampton. 
  4. "Sir Francis Galton F.R.S: 1822–1911". 
  5. "Pearson, Karl". Statisticians in History. American Statistical Association. 30 November 2016. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Karl Pearson (1857 - 1936)". Department of Statistical Science – University College London. 
  7. "Karl Pearson". School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of St Andrews. 2003. 
  8. John Aldrich (2008). "Karl Pearson: A Reader's Guide". University of Southampton. 
  9. Williams, RH, Zimmerman, DW, Zumbo, BD & Ross, D (2003). "Charles Spearman: British Behavioral Scientist". Human Nature Review 3: 114–118. 
  10. "William Sealy Gosset". Figures from the History of Probability and Statistics. University of Southampton. 
  11. Strecker, Heinrich; Strecker, Rosemarie (2016). "Oskar Anderson". Encyclopedia of Mathematics. Springer-Verlag GmbH, Heidelberg.,_Oskar&oldid=39172. 
  12. O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F. (May 2000), "Oskar Johann Viktor Anderson", MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews, .
  13. Sheynin, O.B. (1970). "Anderson, Oskar Johann Viktor". Dictionary of Scientific Biography. 1. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. pp. 154–155. ISBN 978-0-684-10114-9. 
  14. "Oskar Anderson". Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Famous scholars from Kiel. 
  15. "Fisher, R.A.". Statisticians in History. American Statistical Association. 30 November 2016. 
  16. "R.A. Fisher". Figures from the History of Probability and Statistics. University of Southampton. 
  17. "A Guide to R. A. Fisher". 
  18. "Neyman, Jerzy". Statisticians in History. American Statistical Association. 
  19. "Deming, W. Edwards". Statisticians in History. American Statistical Association. 30 November 2016. 
  20. "Pearson, Egon S.". Statisticians in History. American Statistical Association. 
  21. William Grimes (17 July 2010). "David Blackwell, Scholar of Probability, Dies at 91". The New York Times. "His “Basic Statistics” (1969) was one of the first textbooks on Bayesian statistics, which assess the uncertainty of future outcomes by incorporating new evidence as it arises, rather than relying on historical data. He also wrote numerous papers on multistage decision-making." 
  22. Degroot, Morris H. (1987). "A Conversation with C. R. Rao". Statistical Science 2: 53–67. doi:10.1214/ss/1177013438. 
  23. Kruse, Megan. "C.R. Rao Receives National Medal of Science". 
  24. Wermuth, Nanny; Anthony C. Davison; Dodge, Yadolah (2005). Celebrating Statistics: Papers in honour of Sir David Cox on his 80th birthday (Oxford Statistical Science Series). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-856654-0. OCLC 185035518. 
  25. Casella, George (2003). "Introduction to the Silver Anniversary of the Bootstrap". Statistical Science 18 (2): 133–134. doi:10.1214/ss/1063994967. 
  26. Harold Hotelling (1988). "Golden Oldies: Classic Articles from the World of Statistics and Probability: 'The Place of Statistics in the University'". Statistical Science 3 (1): 72–83. doi:10.1214/ss/1177013002. 
  27. "About the department" (in en). 2023-08-14. 
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  29. Hotelling, Harold. American Statistical Association Statisticians in History. Retrieved 22 May 2009. 
  30. "Collection: Statistics Department records | George Washington University". 
  31. "George Washington University, Department of Statistics" (in en). 2022-12-10. 
  32. "Cox, Gertrude M.". Statisticians in History. American Statistical Association. 
  33. Herman Wold was appointed Professor of Statistics at Uppsala University in 1942. Already, in 1928, a Swedish Doctor of Philosophy ("Filosofisk Doktorsgrad") was awarded (to P. George Winsler); in 1910, a Professor's Chair in "Statistics" was created[yes|permanent dead link|dead link}}].
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  36. Susan S. Lang (18 April 2008), Walter T. Federer, father of Cornell's statistics department, dies at 92, Cornell Chronicle, 
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  38. Dixit, Ulhas J.; Satam, Meena R. (1999). Dedicated to MC Chakrabarti, Book (Papers) - Statistical Inference and Design of Experiments. Narosa Publishing House. ISBN 978-81-7319-281-4. 
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  52. History, Department of Statistics. Texas A&M University. Retrieved 2 May 2009. 
  53. Wolfgang Saxon (25 October 2001). "Francis John Anscombe, 83, Mathematician and Professor". New York Times. 
  54. Barbara (Amato) Kuslan (2002). "The History of the Yale University Department of Statistics 1963–2000". 
  55. "Purdue University - Department of Statistics - History". 
  56. "ISRT, University of Dhaka: Homepage". 
  57. Randles, Ronald Herman (2007). "A Conversation with Robert V. Hogg". Statistical Science 22 (1): 137–152. doi:10.1214/088342306000000637. Bibcode2007arXiv0708.3974R. 
  58. Department of Statistics Celebrates its 40th Birthday. University of Glasgow. 2006. 
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  66. Eine Chronik des Fachbereichs Statistik, 1994, 
  67. "University of Toronto Department of Statistics: About Us". 
  68. Gain, Anil Kumar. "Founder of the University". 
  69. "Vice-Chancellor's Report August 1982-July 1985, p.5". 
  70. "History of the Department | Statistics at Illinois". 
  71. "Department History: Department of Statistics and Data Science - Northwestern University" (in en). 
  72. "History of Rice University Statistics Department". 
  73. "Brief History of the Establishment of Statistics at Oxford". 
  74. "Frank E. Harrell Jr., Ph.D. – Vanderbilt Kennedy Center People". 
  75. "Allan R. Sampson, founding chair of Pitt's Statistics Department". 
  76. Ylvisaker, Donald (2016). "Jan de Leeuw and Statistics at UCLA" (in en). Journal of Statistical Software 73 (9). doi:10.18637/jss.v073.i09. ISSN 1548-7660. 

External links