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 |
---|---|---|---|---|---|
Al-Kindi | Abassid Caliphate | 801 | 873 | Developed the first code breaking algorithm based on frequency analysis. He wrote a book entitled "Manuscript on Deciphering Cryptographic Messages", containing detailed discussions on statistics | ^{[1]} |
Graunt, John | English | 1620 | 1674 | Pioneer of demography who produced the first life table | ^{[2]} |
Bayes, Thomas | English | 1702 | 1761 | Developed the interpretation of probability now known as Bayesian probability | ^{[3]} |
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 | |
Gauss, Carl Friedrich | 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 | ^{[4]}^{[5]} |
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 | ^{[6]}^{[7]}^{[8]}^{[9]} |
Spearman, Charles | English | 1863 | 1945 | Extended the Pearson correlation coefficient to the Spearman's rank correlation coefficient | ^{[10]} |
Gosset, William Sealy (known as "Student") | English | 1876 | 1937 | Discovered the Student t distribution and invented the Student's t-test | ^{[11]} |
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. | ^{[12]}^{[13]}^{[14]}^{[15]} |
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 | ^{[16]}^{[17]}^{[18]} |
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 | ^{[19]} |
Deming, W. Edwards | American | 1900 | 1993 | Developed methods for statistical quality control | ^{[20]} |
Pearson, Egon | English | 1895 | 1980 | Co-developed the Neyman–Pearson lemma of statistical hypothesis testing | ^{[21]} |
Finetti, Bruno de | 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 | |
Tukey, John | American | 1915 | 2000 | Jointly popularized Fast Fourier transformation, pioneer of exploratory data analysis and graphical presentation of data, developed the jackknife for variance estimation, invented the box plot. | ^{[22]} |
Blackwell, David | American | 1919 | 2010 | Co-developed Rao-Blackwell theorem and wrote one of the first Bayesian textbooks, Basic Statistics. | ^{[23]} |
Rao, Calyampudi Radhakrishna | Indian | 1920 | Co-developed Cramér–Rao bound and Rao–Blackwell theorem, invented MINQUE method of variance component estimation. | ^{[24]}^{[25]} | |
Cox, David | English | 1924 | Developed the proportional hazards model for the analysis of survival data | ^{[26]} | |
Efron, Bradley | American | 1938 | Invented the bootstrap resampling technique for deriving an empirical distribution of an estimate of a model parameter | ^{[27]} |
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.^{[28]}
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.
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