Key Historical Figures in Statistics


Some of the key statisticians, in history, are John Graunt, Jacques Bernoulli, Ronald Fisher, Galileo, Blaise Pascal, and Pierre de Fermat. They each had their own theories, inputs, and contributions which aided in the development of statistics.

Early applications of statistical came from the needs of states to base their policies on demographic and economic data. London, England was suffering from plague outbreaks and the King wanted some sort of an early warning system of the threat of fresh outbreaks. Weekly records were kept of mortality and the causes of death in the capital. John Graunt made an estimate of the population of London. This is thought to be the first example of the interpretation of passive data and the real beginning of statistics. The important fact about this was that John Graunt checked his calculations of total population by going to the evidence. John Graunt was the pioneer of demography and produced the first life table (Who Invented Statistics, 2010). He wrote a book called Natural and Political Observations upon the Bills of Mortality in 1662. This book refers to the collections of mortality figures in London and he is regarded as the author of the first book on statistics (Statisticians Through History, 2001 - 2010).
Mathematical foundations were not added or used until the 17th century, with the development of the Probability Theory, by Blaise Pascal and Pierre de Fermat, strongly influencing the development of modern economics and social science (Answers.com, 2010). The Probability Theory came about from the study of games of chance. An example of this theory would be if you had a deck of 52 playing cards and you wanted to find the probability of picking one card from the deck and it being a heart. There are 13 cards in the deck that are heart, so the solution would be 13/52 or 1/4. So the probability is 25% you will pick a heart on the first try from the deck.
Most of the graphical methods and other significance tests come from the 20th century. In today’s society, statistics are widely used by state, local, and federal government, various businesses, social sciences, etc. to name a few. With the use of modern technology, statistical computation has risen to new levels that would be take too much time to try and perform manually.

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References
Answers.com. (2010). Retrieved July 2010, from Who was Blaise Pascal and what did he invent: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Who_was_blaise_pascal_and_what_did_he_invent
John Aldrich, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK. (2010, July). Retrieved July 2010, from Figures from the History of Probability and Statistica: http://www.economics.soton.ac.uk/staff/aldrich/Figures.htm
Statisticians Through History. (2001 - 2010). Retrieved July 2010, from http://www.bized.co.uk/timeweb/reference/statisticians.htm
Who Invented Statistics. (2010). Retrieved July 2010, from Ask Answers: http://answers.ask.com/Science/Mathematics/who_invented_statistics

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