R. A. Fisher
Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher, FRS (1890 – 1962) was an English statistician, evolutionary biologist, and geneticist. Richard Dawkins described him as “The greatest of Darwin’s successors”, and the historian of statistics Anders Hald said “Fisher was a genius who almost single-handedly created the foundations for modern statistical science”.His contributions to experimental design, analysis of variance, and likelihood based methods have led some to call him “The Father of Statistics”. Some think that it was first Fisher who referred to the growth rate r (used in equations such as the logistic function) as the Malthusian parameter, as a criticism of the writings of Thomas Robert Malthus, who Fisher referred to “…a relic of creationist philosophy…” in observing the fecundity of nature and deducing (as Darwin did) that this therefore drove natural selection. However, it is much more likely that Fisher called r the Malthusian parameter because, in 1798, Malthus published An Essay on the Principal of Population, which contained a mathematical model of population growth that became commonly known as the Malthusian Growth Model and which contained said parameter in the following formula:
where P0 = initial population, r = growth rate, t = time.
Karl Pearson (1857 – 1936) was a major contributor to the early development of statistics, and founder of the world’s first university statistics department at University College London in 1911. He was also an ardent and controversial proponent of eugenics. His most famous contribution is the Pearson’s chi-square test. He was an influential English mathematician who has been credited for establishing the discipline of mathematical statistics.
In 1911 he founded the world’s first university statistics department at University College London. He was a proponent of eugenics, and a protégé and biographer of Sir Francis Galton.
A sesquicentenary conference was held in London on 23 March 2007, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of his birth.
Frank Yates (1902 – 1994) was one of the pioneers of 20th century statistics. He worked on the design of experiments, including contributions to the theory of analysis of variance and originating Yates’ algorithm and the balanced incomplete block design. He became an enthusiast of electronic computers, in 1954 obtaining an Elliott 401 for Rothamsted and contributing to the initial development of statistical computing. In 1931 Yates was appointed assistant statistician at Rothamsted Experimental Station by R.A. Fisher. In 1933 he became head of statistics when Fisher went to University College London. At Rothamsted he worked on the design of experiments, including contributions to the theory ofanalysis of variance and originating Yates’s algorithm and the balanced incomplete block design.
During World War II he worked on what would later be called operations research.
After the war he worked on sample survey design and analysis. He became an enthusiast of electronic computers, in 1954 obtaining an Elliott 401for Rothamsted and contributing to the initial development of statistical computing. In 1960 he was awarded the Guy Medal in Gold of the Royal Statistical Society, and in 1966 he was awarded the Royal Medal of the Royal Society. He retired from Rothamsted to become a Senior Research Fellow at Imperial College London. He died in 1994, aged 92, in Harpenden.
John Wilder Tukey (1915 – 2000) was a professor of Statistics at Princeton University. A mathematician by training, his statistical interests were many and varied. He contributed significantly to what is today known as the jackknife procedure. He introduced the box plot in his 1977 book,Exploratory Data Analysis.He also contributed to statistical practice and articulated the important distinction between exploratory data analysis and confirmatory data analysis, believing that much statistical methodology placed too great an emphasis on the latter. He is an American statistician best known for development of the FFT algorithm and box plot. His statistical interests were many and varied. He is particularly remembered for his development withJames Cooley of the Cooley–Tukey FFT algorithm. In 1970, he contributed significantly to what is today known as the jackknife estimation—also termed Quenouille-Tukey jackknife. He introduced thebox plot in his 1977 book,”Exploratory Data Analysis”.
Tukey’s range test, the Tukey lambda distribution, Tukey’s test of additivity and Tukey’s lemma all bear his name. He is also the creator of several little-known methods such as the trimean andmedian-median line, an easier alternative to linear regression.
In 1974, he developed, with Jerome H. Friedman, the concept of the projection pursuit.
He also contributed to statistical practice and articulated the important distinction between exploratory data analysis and confirmatory data analysis, believing that much statistical methodology placed too great an emphasis on the latter.
Though he believed in the utility of separating the two types of analysis, he pointed out that sometimes, especially in natural science, this was problematic and termed such situations uncomfortable science.