December 2008

Volume 25, Issue 4

Editorial - The statistical legacy of William Sealy Gosset (“Student”)

Authors: J.A. Hanley
doi: 10.1922/CDH_2479Hanley02


The work The Probable Error of a Mean that led to today’s t-distribution was the lead article in the March 1908 issue of Biometrika. Its author was William Sealy Gosset [1876-1937], who -- for proprietary reasons -wrote under the pen name “Student.” With an Oxford degree in mathematics and chemistry, Gosset began work at the Guinness brewery in Dublin in 1899. Those who still misspell his surname today –as of this writing, the list includes the website of his own employer -- might find it easier to remember the correct spelling if they realized that the Gossets came from Huguenot stock, that the name on the family crest refers to “trois Goussés de fèves feuillées et tigées, et rangées, en pairle de meme” and that it was transmuted to Gosset when his forbears settled in the Channel Island of Jersey The first of his more than 20 statistical papers, published in 1907 while he was on sabbatical leave at Karl Pearson’s unit at University College, dealt with statistical variations in the counting of (yeast) cells. In it, he independently derived the Poisson distribution. Moreover, he used statistical techniques for correlations and goodness of fit developed by Pearson in the previous ten years to test the fit of this theoretical distribution to several sets of experimental data. In 1935, he moved back to his native England to set up a Guinness brewery in Park Royal in London. Gosset died at the age of 61 in 1937. His friend E S Beaven, a barley breeder, wrote an obituary in the London Times.


Other articles in this issue

Article Pages Access
Editorial - The statistical legacy of William Sealy Gosset (“Student”) 194-195 Download
Effect of tooth loss and denture status on oral health-related quality of life of older individuals from Sri Lanka 196-200 Download
The distribution of general dental practitioners with NHS contract numbers in relation to the distance of their practices from the seven dental undergraduate teaching hospitals in England outside London 201-204 Download
Evaluation of oral health-related quality of life questionnaires in a general child population 205-210 Download
Retention and effectiveness of fissure sealants in Kuwaiti school children 211-215 Download
Loss of sealant retention and subsequent caries development. 216-220 Download
Oral health and treatment needs among 15-year-olds in Tehran, Iran 221-225 Download
The frequency of periodontal infrabony defects on panoramic radiographs of an adult population seeking dental care 226-230 Download
Oral health problems and needs in nursing home residents in Northern Italy 231-236 Download
Caries prevalence and need for dental care in 13–18-year-olds in the Municipality of Milan, Italy. 237-242 Download
Number of teeth and serum lipid peroxide in 85-year-olds 243-247 Download
Access to dental services for people with a physical disability: a survey of general dental practitioners in Leicestershire, UK 248-252 Download
Short Communication - Risk indicators of dental caries in 5-year-old Brazilian children 253-256 Download


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