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 article "On a distribution yielding the error functions of several well known statistics" presented Karl Pearson's chi-squaredd and Student's t in the same framework as the normal distribution and his own analysis of variance distribution z. Fisher's book Statistical methods for research workers showed how to use these distributions. 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.

Table of contents
1 Brief biography
2 Bibliography
3 External links

Brief biography

He was born in East Finchley, London and obtained a B.A. degree in mathematics, not astronomy as is often said, 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 moving in 1943 to the Balfour chair of genetics at Cambridge.

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. After retiring from Cambridge he spent some time as a research fellow at the CSIRO in Adelaide, Australia where he died in 1962.


A selection from Fisher's 395 articles

(The following are all available on the University of Adelaide website)
  • "Frequency distribution of the values of the correlation coefficient in samples from an indefinitely large population." Biometrika, 10: 507-521.(1915)
  • "The correlation between relatives on the supposition of Mendelian inheritance" Trans. Roy. Soc. Edinb., 52: 399-433.(1918)
  • "On the mathematical foundations of theoretical statistics" Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, A, 222: 309-368.(1922)
  • "On the dominance ratio. Proc. Roy. Soc. Edinb., 42: 321-341.(1922)
  • "On a distribution yielding the error functions of several well known statistics" Proc. Int. Cong. Math., Toronto, 2: 805-813. (1924)
  • "Theory of statistical estimation" Proceedings of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, 22: 700-725 (1925)
  • "Applications of Student's distribution" Metron, 5\: 90-104 (1925)
  • "The arrangement of field experiments" J. Min. Agric. G. Br., 33: 503-513.(1926)
  • "The general sampling distribution of the multiple correlation coefficient" Proceedings of Royal Society, A, 121: 654-673 (1928)
  • "Two new properties of mathematical likelihood" Proceedings of Royal Society, A, 144: 285-307(1934)

Books by Fisher

(Full publication details are available on the University of Adelaide website)

Biography of Fisher

External links