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Ronald Fisher

Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher (February 17, 1890 - July 29, 1962) was a geneticist and statistician, inventor of the techniques of maximum likelihood and analysis of variance, a pioneer of the design of experiments, and the originator of the concepts of sufficiency and ancillarity[?], making him a major figure in 20th century statistics. His work on the theory of population genetics also made him one of the three great figures of that field, together with Sewall Wright and J. B. S. Haldane, and as such one of the founders of the neodarwinian modern synthesis.

He was born in East Finchley[?], London and obtained a B.A. degree in astronomy from Cambridge University in 1912. In 1911 he was involved in the formation of the Cambridge University Eugenics Society. His studies of errors in astronomical calculations, together with his interests in genetics and natural selection, led to involvement in statistics.

From 1919 he worked at Rothamsted Experimental Station making contributions in statistics and genetics. In 1933 he became a professor of eugenics at University College London and he held further posts in England.

He received various awards for his work and was made a knight bachelor by Elizabeth II of England in 1952.

He had a long running feud with Karl Pearson (he declined a post at the University of London), and later with Pearson's son E.S. Pearson.

At the end of his career he worked in Adelaide, Australia where he died in 1962.


Some of his 395 publications:
  • On the mathematical foundations of theoretical statistics (1922)
  • Theory of statistical estimation (1925)
  • Applications of Student's distribution (1925)
  • The general sampling distribution of the multiple correlation coefficient (1928)

  • The genetical theory of natural selection (1930)
  • The design of experiments (1935)
  • Statistical tables for biological, agricultural and medical research (1938, coauthor:Frank Yates)
  • The theory of imbreeding (1949)
  • Contributions to mathematical statistics (1950)
  • Statistical methods and statistical inference (1956)



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