Great Statisticians

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".

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Karl Pearson

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.

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Gertrude Cox

Gertrude Mary Cox (1900 - 1978) was an influential American statistician and founder of the department of Experimental Statistics at North Carolina State University. She was later appointed director of both the Institute of Statistics of the Consolidated University of North Carolina and the Statistics Research Division of North Carolina State University. Her most important and influential research dealt with experimental design; she wrote an important book on the subject with W. G. Cochran. In 1949 Cox became the first female elected into the International Statistical Institute and in 1956 she was president of the American Statistical Association.

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Frank Yates

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.

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Kirstine Smith

Kirstine Smith (1878 - 1939) was born in Denmark. She was admitted as a candidate for a doctorate in statistics in 1916 at the University of London  and wrote a thesis that was a precursor to modern optimal design theory, published in 1918 Biometrika.  Karl Pearson considered her to be one of his most brilliant mathematical statisticians.  Her work with Pearson on minimum chi-square spurred a controversial dialog between Pearson and Fisher, and led to Fisher’s introduction of sufficient statistics.  She returned to teaching in Denmark and ended her career there.

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John Tukey

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.
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Student (William Sealy Gosset)

William Sealy Gosset (1876 - 1937) was a chemist and statistician, better known by his pen name Student. He worked in a beer brewery and his testing of very small patches led him to discover certain small-sample distributions.This led to the development of Student's t-Test. His communications with Fisher on the subject are legendary.

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George E. P. Box

George Edward Pelham Box, born on October 18, 1919, was a pioneer in the areas of quality control, time series analysis, and design of experiments.  Still on the engineering faculty of University of Wisconsin, he is well-known for the quote “…all models are wrong, but some are useful”.  His books Statistics for Experimenters and Time Series Analysis: Forecasting and Control are classic texts.

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David R. Cox

Sir David R. Cox, born in 1924, is a British statistician who has made pioneering and important contributions to numerous areas of statistics and applied probability.  Perhaps the best known of his many developments is the proportional hazards model, which is widely used in the analysis of survival data.   He is now an Honorary Fellow of Nuffield College and a member of the Department of Statistics at the University of Oxford.

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Jerome H. Friedman

Jerome H. Friedman is one of the world's leading researchers in statistical data mining. He has been a Professor of Statistics at Stanford University for nearly 20 years and has published on a wide range of data mining topics including nearest neighbor classification, logistic regression, and high-dimensional data analysis, and machine learning.

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Bradley Efron

Professor Efron is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, president of the American Statistical Association, recipient of the MacArthur Prize, and winner of the Wilks Medal of the American Statistical Association. Professor Efron is renowned internationally for his pioneering work in computationally intensive statistical methods, particularly the bootstrap method and the biased coin design.  He is still a very active researcher, having worked more recently in statistical genetics.

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F. N. David

Florence Nightingale David (1909 – 1993), a great statistician and a fighter for increasing women’s roles in the sciences, began her career as a research assistant in Karl Pearson’s laboratory.   During World War II, she became an experimental officer and senior statistician for the Research and Experiments Department, and was scientific advisor on mines for the military.  David felt that the war gave women more opportunities and that conditions for them are now better because of it.  After serving as a lecturer and professor at University College for many years, in 1970 she was offered the chair of statistics at the University of California at Riverside. 

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