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Activity Number: 330 - Snapshots in History: Statisticians Making an Impact
Type: Topic Contributed
Date/Time: Tuesday, July 30, 2019 : 10:30 AM to 12:20 PM
Sponsor: History of Statistics Interest Group
Abstract #304672 Presentation
Title: Abraham DeMoivre: Progenitor of Statistics
Author(s): Herbert Weisberg*
Keywords: DeMoivre; history; probability; normal distribution

Statistical methods seem to us natural and self-evident scientific tools. But would modern statistics have emerged if not for the critical insights of a few geniuses throughout history? This is a fascinating question. A plausible argument can be made that the most pivotal figure was Abraham DeMoivre (1667-1754). His seminal intellectual contributions began around 1710, at a time when probability and statistics, as we have come to understand these terms, were nonexistent. By the end of his long career, DeMoivre had formulated the basic concepts that underlie modern statistical theory and applications. These include, most notably, our very notion of probability, the normal distribution, and the relationship between probability and empirical data. Without these seminal contributions, it is unclear how, and even whether, the discipline of statistics would have evolved.

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