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This profile was last updated on 9/25/14  and contains information from public web pages.

Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher

Wrong Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher?

British Statistician

Phone: (612) ***-****  HQ Phone
Stat-Ease Inc
2021 E. Hennepin Avenue Suite 480
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55413
United States

Company Description: Stat-Ease offers training, articles, books, software, online tutorials, newsletters, FAQs and DOE Resources, consulting services, and technical support to get you...   more
Background

Employment History

Board Memberships and Affiliations

Education

  • B.A. , astronomy
    Cambridge
200 Total References
Web References
History of Stat-Ease
www.statease.com, 25 Sept 2014 [cached]
Sir Ronald Fisher, a distinguished British statistician, developed the basic tools while at Rothamsted Agricultural Station in the 1920's. He published the seminal "Design of Experiments" in 1935. During this period, most of the DOE work occurred (literally) in the field of agriculture. For example, in a pioneering study, researchers from the University of Minnesota made use of the statistical tools developed by Fisher to evaluate different types of barley.4 They randomly applied the various treatments within several blocks of land at various agricultural stations around the state.
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They recognized an opportunity when IBM came out with its original PC: The methods described by Fisher and Box could be incorporated in a menu-driven computer program that would make DOE easy for non-statisticians.
The University of Cambridge Eugenics Society from 1911
www.galtoninstitute.org.uk, 2 Mar 2007 [cached]
The Minute Book with correspondence and Annual Reports of the Cambridge and London Societies provided important information on its functioning and details of the lectures by R A Fisher and W R Inge.
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Ronald Aylmer Fisher (1890-1962)
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C S Stock, an undergraduate, became secretary and Fisher was Student Chairman of the Council.
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Fisher proposed a vote of thanks.
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Fisher gave a paper at the second meeting of the undergraduate branch on 10 November 1911 on Heredity covering Biometry and Mendelism explaining that both are important for eugenists. What is interesting is that biometry and Mendelism were considered together and it became the Eugenics Society's public policy to teach and apply both in the study of heredity as Fisher wished to do. His view was that all the best points in man can be improved. There were then several more undergraduate meetings on eugenics and the feeble-minded, Mendelism, eugenics and education, and evolution and society by other undergraduates including Stock and Fisher.
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Punnett, who studied under Bateson and was then his colleague, was the second Balfour Professor and Fisher was to become the third.
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The undergraduate section found this view very important and Fisher proposed that one paper should be devoted to Mendelism each academic year. Punnett's lecture was favourably reported in the Cambridge Daily News (6 December 1911) in addition to mention of distribution to Cambridge members of Major Darwin's presidential address to the parent Society and noting that he would be lecturing in Cambridge the next term.
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On 22 November 1912 Fisher gave a public lecture on "Some Hopes of a Eugenist" ( Eugenics Review, 5, p309-315). There is no record of how this lecture was received. This appears to have been the only lecture that term as there are no records of other lectures, public or undergraduate, but there are records which indicate that the following term lectures were on scientific breeding, eugenic ethics, limitations of eugenic policy, statistical methods (by Fisher), legal difficulties and eugenics and historic Christianity.
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When Fisher went down from Cambridge, the Cambridge Society lost its way and closed down.
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At this stage Ronald Fisher's career was still ahead of him; it was predictably brilliant. A Fellow of the Royal Society at the age of 39 he held the chair of eugenics at University College London from 1933 to 1943 and of genetics at Cambridge from 1943 to 1957. He was knighted in 1952. (see Newsletters 39.6 and 42.4).
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Thanks to Fisher geneticists reconciled Mendelian genetics with Darwinian selection and this led the way to reform eugenics, a combination of heredity and environment which became more relevant politically with the prevailing intellectual move to the left.
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Darwin gave a brief account of the old Society, particularly mentioning the valuable work done for eugenic research by Cambridge men such as Dr Fisher and Dr D Ward Cutler.
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This is an interesting proposal and perhaps it was put forward in view of the fact that in the early years, when Fisher left Cambridge the Society closed down.
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When Fisher left Cambridge either he was unable to find a successor to keep eugenic interest going, or it was a combination of lack of a successor and the First World War.
Egerton had been Professor of Chemical ...
www.denialdelay.org.uk [cached]
Egerton had been Professor of Chemical Technology at Imperial College from 1936 to 1952 and Secretary of the Royal Society for ten years to 1948; Fisher had been since 1943 the Arthur Balfour Professor of Genetics at Cambridge and was a past President of the Royal Statistical Society.Fisher, in particular, was a valuable ally to the industry.[22]
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The report also included a six-page paper by Geoffrey Todd, apparently based on an earlier report by Sir Ronald Fisher, casting doubt on the interpretation of the statistics of smoking and health - PRO file MH 55.2232. [back]
Ronald ...
www.arikah.net, 29 Nov 2007 [cached]
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Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher, FRS (17 February 1890 - 29 July 1962) was a British statistician, evolutionary biologist, and geneticist.He has been described as:
Ronald Fisher:Ronald FisherRonald Fisher:Ronald Fisher
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Fisher was born in East Finchley in London, to George and Katie Fisher.
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Ronald Fisher:Stained glass window in the dining hall of Caius College, in Cambridge, commemorating Ronald Fisher and representing a Latin square.
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Ronald Fisher:Stained glass window in the dining hall of Caius College, in Cambridge, commemorating Ronald Fisher and representing a Latin square.
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Stained glass window in the dining hall of Caius College, in Cambridge, commemorating Ronald Fisher and representing a Latin square.
In 1909 he won a scholarship to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.He was very happy there; he formed many friendships and became enthralled with the heady intellectual atmosphere.
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After graduating, Fisher left Cambridge for a mundane job in London, and it was six years before he found a post that could use his abilities to advantage.
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During this period, Fisher started writing book reviews for the Eugenic Review and gradually increased his interest in genetical and statistical work.He volunteered to undertake all such reviews for the journal, and was hired to a part-time position by Major Darwin.He published several articles on biometry during this period, including the ground-breaking The Correlation Between Relatives on the Supposition of Mendelian Inheritance.
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In 1919 Fisher started work at Rothamsted Experimental Station located at Harpenden in Hertfordshire, England.Here he started a major study of the extensive collections of data recorded over many years.This resulted in a series of reports under the general title Studies in Crop Variation.He was in his prime, and he began a period of amazing productivity.Over the next seven years, he pioneered the principles of the design of experiments and elaborated his studies of "analysis of variance".He furthered his studies of the statistics of small samples.Perhaps even more important, he began his systematic approach of the analysis of real data as the springboard for the development of new statistical methods.He began to pay particular attention to the labor involved in the necessary computations, and developed ingenious methods that were as practical as they were founded in rigor.In 1925, this work culminated in the publication of his first book, Statistical Methods for Research Workers.This went into many editions and translations in later years, and became a standard reference work for scientists in many disciplines.In 1935, this was followed by The Design of Experiments, which also became a standard.
In addition to "analysis of variance", Fisher invented the technique of maximum likelihood and originated the concepts of sufficiency, ancillarity, Fisher's linear discriminator and Fisher information.
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In defending the use of the z distribution when the data were not Gaussian, Fisher introduced the "randomization test".To quote from the biographical article by Yates and Mather (referenced below), "Fisher introduced the randomization test, comparing the value of t or z actually obtained with the distribution of the t or z values when all possible random arrangements were imposed on theexperimental data."
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However, Fisher wrote that randomization tests were "in no sense put forward to supersede the common and expeditious tests based on the Gaussian theory of errors."Fisher thus effectively began the field of non-parametric statistics, even though he didn't believe it was a necessary move.
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 was one of the founders of the neo-Darwinian modern evolutionary synthesis.
Fisher introduced the concept of Fisher information in 1925, some years before Shannon's notions of information and entropy.
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Fisher was an ardent promoter of eugenics, which also stimulated and guided much of his work in genetics of man.His book The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection was started in 1928 and published in 1930.It contained a summary of what was already known to the literature.He developed ideas on sexual selection, mimicry and the evolution of dominance.He famously showed that chance of a mutation increasing the fitness of an organism decreases with the magnitude of the mutation.He also proved that larger populations carry more variation so that they have a larger chance of survival.He set forth the foundations of what was to become known as population genetics.
About a third of the book concerned the applications of these ideas to man, and presented what data there was available at the time.He presented a theory that attributed the decline and fall of civilizations to its arrival of a state where the fertility of the upper classes is forced down.Using the census data of 1911 for Britain, he showed that there was an inverse relationship between fertility and social class.This was partly due, he believed, to the rise in social status of families who were not capable of producing many children but who rose because of the financial advantage of having a small number of children.Therefore he proposed the abolishment of the economic advantage of small families by instituting subsidies (he called them allowances) to families with larger numbers of children, with the allowances proportional to the earnings of the father.He himself had two sons and six daughters.
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The book was reviewed, among others, by physicist Charles Galton Darwin, a grandson of Charles Darwin's, and following publication of his review, C. G. Darwin sent Fisher his copy of the book, with notes in the margin.
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Fisher played a major role in this movement, and served in several official committees to promote it.
In 1934, Fisher moved to increase the power of scientists within the Eugenics Society, but was ultimately thwarted by members with an environmentalist point of view, and he, along with many other scientists, resigned.
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As an adult, Fisher was noted for his loyalty to his friends.Once he had formed a favorable opinion of any man, he was loyal to a fault.A similar sense of loyalty bound him to his culture.He was a patriot, a member of the Church of England, politically conservative, and a scientific rationalist.Much sought after as a brilliant conversationalist and dinner companion, he very early on developed a reputation for carelessness in his dress and, sometimes, his manners.In later years he was the archetype of the absent-minded professor.
Having been brought up in the Church of England, he knew the scriptures well, but was not dogmatic in his religious beliefs.In a 1955 broadcast on Science and Christianity, he said,"The custom of making abstract dogmatic assertions is not, certainly,derived from the teaching of Jesus, but has been a widespread weaknessamong religious teachers in subsequent centuries.
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It was Fisher who referred to the growth rate r (used in equations such as the logistic function) as the Malthusian parameter, as a criticism of the writings of Thomas Robert Malthus.Fisher referred to "...a relic of creationist philosophy..." in observing the fecundity of nature and deducing (as Darwin did) that this therefore drove natural selection.
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Fisher fought back, but he was then exiled back to Rothamsted with a much reduced staff and resources.He was unable to find any suitable war work, and though he kept very busy with various small projects, he became discouraged of any real progress.His marriage disintegrated.His oldest son, an (airplane?) pilot, was killed in the war.
Heritage: The Hampstead years of ...
www.hamhigh.co.uk:80, 1 Jan 2002 [cached]
Heritage: The Hampstead years of Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher - most significant British statistician of the 20th century
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Portrait of the English statistician and geneticist, Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher (1890- 1962). Picture: Science Photo Library Portrait of the English statistician and geneticist, Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher (1890- 1962). Picture: Science Photo Library
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In the latest of our series commemorating the life and work of people honoured with blue plaques, Adam Sonin explores the early years and burgeoning career of Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher, the most significant British statistician of the 20th century.
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The Fisher family at the unveiling of the blue plaque to Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher at Inverforth House in 2002. Picture: Nigel Sutton
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The Fisher family at the unveiling of the blue plaque to Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher at Inverforth House in 2002.
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Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher was far ahead of his contemporaries, so far ahead that, when his epoch-making book, Statistical Methods for Research Workers, was published in 1925, it did not receive one favourable review.
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A small messy man with red hair, a beard and glasses boasting near inch-thick lenses, Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher (1890â€"1962), statistician and geneticist, was born on February 17 at his parents’ home in East Finchley.
He was the last of seven surviving children born to George Fisher, a dealer in fine arts, and his wife, Katie, daughter of Samuel Heath, a London solicitor.
There were four boys and three girls in total and, after the birth of Geoffrey in 1876 and Evelyn in 1877, they named their third child, who was born the following year, Alan. He died young and Katie, being superstitious, decided that all their children from that time on would have a “y†in their name. Ronald Aylmer Fisher was the second born of twins, but the older twin was still-born.
His father was partner in Robinson and Fisher of King Street, St James, a firm of auctioneers whose reputation at the time rivalled Sotheby’s and Christie’s. As a result of his commercial success and increased wealth, he moved the family to a stunning Hampstead residence.
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An old biology master at Harrow, Arthur Vassal, later commented: “For sheer brilliance I could divide all those whom I have taught into two groups: one contained a single outstanding boy, R. A. Fisher; the other, all the rest.â€
Fisher’s eyesight was always terrible. As a pupil he often worked ‘off-paper’ and in his head, using his mind alone to gauge and solve whatever problem he faced. As a result, all his life, he was able to “leap over intermediate stages in calculationâ€. His peers would gape, murmuring: “He has evidently solved the problem, correctly, but I don’t see how he has done it!â€
In 1904, at the age of 14, Fisher lost his mother to acute peritonitis and within 18 months his father lost ‘the lot’.
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Fisher relied on scholarships to keep him at Harrow and, despite his family situation, excelled. In 1906 he won the Neeld Medal in a mathematical essay competition which was open to the whole school.
Later he was awarded an £80 scholarship from Caius and Gonville College, Cambridge, which offered him the opportunity to really blossom.
At university he studied mathematics and astronomy but was also interested in biology. In his second year as an undergraduate he began consulting senior members of the university about the possibility of forming a Cambridge University Eugenics Society, which was created in 1911.
In 1912, Major Leonard Darwin, Charles Darwin’s fourth son and president of the London-based Eugenics Education Society, spoke to the Cambridge group.
Fisher was to form a strong friendship with Darwin, who encouraged Fisher’s early scientific career both financially and as a mentor.
Later that year Fisher completed his degree with distinction, and won a postgraduate scholarship in physics for a further year at Cambridge. A tutor said: “If he had stuck to the ropes he would have made a first class mathematician, but he would not.â€
The ecologist, geneticist and winner of the Royal Society’s Darwin Medal, Edmund B. Ford (1901â€"1988), who Fisher dubbed Henry after the car manufacturer, reflected on their first meeting.
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When war broke out in 1914, Fisher tried to enlist in the army, having already trained in the Officers’ Training Corps while at Cambridge.
His medical test showed him A1 on all aspects except his eyesight, which was rated C5. He was rejected and perhaps best left unarmed.
In 1917, Fisher married the daughter of a preacher and the couple had two boys and seven girls.
Knighted in 1952, Fisher is remembered as the most significant British statistician of the 20th century.
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Heritage: The Hampstead years of Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher - most significant British statistician of the 20th century
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