This book provides a selection of pioneering papers or extracts ranging from Pascal (1654) to R.A. Fisher (1930). The editors'annotations put the articles in perspective for the modern reader. A special feature of the book is the large number of translations, nearly all made by the authors. There are several reasons for studying the history of statistics: intrinsic interest in how the field of statistics developed, learning from often brilliant ideas and not reinventing the wheel, and livening up general courses in statistics by reference to important contributors.
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From the reviews:
"The book will be a useful addition to libraries and to the collections of those with a special interest in the history of statistical science."
"David (Iowa State Univ., Ames) and Edwards (Gonville & Caius College, UK) offer an interesting general historical book treating some aspects of the statistical literature. Because of increasing interest in historical development of probability and statistics, numerous good books and journal papers have appeared that either discuss such developments over a certain period or introduce certain specified and particular topics. This book provides access to some contributions neglected earlier, due either to lack of translation or to renewed interest. The origins of the following statistical concepts are included in the compilation: expectation, test of significance, accuracy of observations, coincidences and the inclusion and exclusion technique, asymptotic relative efficiency, logistic growth curve, goodness-of-fit statistics, distribution of sample variance from a normal population, random walk, estimating a binomial parameter by using likelihood functions, extreme-value theory, tournament outcomes, and confidence limits. Appendixes with short list of collected papers and source books cited; first occurrence of terms commonly used in statistics/probability; useful name and subject indexes; lists of references. The authors have done a great job in taking this task of filling the gaps in the historical introduction into literature of some statistical concepts, and this work will interest all engaged in studying or researching the history of statistics/probability. Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.
SHORT BOOK REVIEWS
"Each article is introduced by an essay called ‘Comments on...’; these comments are informative, interesting and beautifully written, and contains numerous modern connected references. The production is first class...The collection is fun to browse. Statistics history buffs and browsers should order this book immediately."
"If you enjoy the history of statistical and probabilistic ideas, you will enjoy this interesting book. It makes good reading ... . This book is a useful addition to the literature on this increasingly popular subject, and I particularly recommend it to graduate students in statistics. There are many ideas that we think of as essentially modern but that have a long history. This book provides interesting background on quite a few of them." (William E. Strawderman, Journal of the American Statistical Association, 2004)
"This book contains ‘a selection of pioneering papers or extracts ranging from Pascal (1654) to R. A. Fisher (1930)’ ... . The authors present a fascinating collection of articles. The accompanying commentaries are well written, easy to read and very instructive. ... The book may be used as part of a course on the history of statistics or by lecturers wishing to provide a historical context ... . It is also pleasurable recreational reading. I would recommend that libraries purchase a copy." (Paul Northrop, Journal of Applied Statistics, Vol. 30 (1), 2003)
"This book contains ... seminal papers, translated into English where necessary, and prefaced by a commentary. In all there are seventeen articles, taken in chronological order, with publication dates spanning nearly three centuries. ... The book will be a useful addition to libraries and to the collections of those with a special interest in the history of statistical science." (C. C. Heyde, Mathematical Reviews, Issue 2002 e)
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