While even savvy users of statistics may have trouble identifying the English statistician William Sealy Gosset, most all are familiar with his lasting contribution to the field published under his pen name “Student”—that is, Student’s t-test. Through his unique background in chemistry and mathematics, Gosset’s lifetime career at the Guinness brewery led to numerous significant statistical discoveries. Unfortunately, at the time, Gosset’s contract at Guinness would not allow any employee to publish in fear of divulging brewery secrets. It was through Karl Pearson’s encouragement, however, that Gosset decided to publish his work using the famous pseudonym.
In this talk we will examine some of Gosset’s contributions to the field, including his seminal work with small sample sizes and hypothesis testing using the t-distribution. Beyond the t-test, we will look at his use of the Poisson distribution, some now-common quality-control tests he first proposed, and his pioneering review of non-random samples. Lastly, we’ll consider some of his lesser-known experimental designs on topics as varied as factors that influence the growth of children to the optimal seeds for farmers to sow.