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Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher (17 February 1890 – 29 July 1962) was a British
polymath A polymath ( el, πολυμαθής, , "having learned much"; la, homo universalis, "universal human") is an individual whose knowledge spans a substantial number of subjects, known to draw on complex bodies of knowledge to solve specific pro ...

polymath
who was active as a
mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces ...
,
statistician A statistician is a person who works with Theory, theoretical or applied statistics. The profession exists in both the private sector, private and public sectors. It is common to combine statistical knowledge with expertise in other subjects, a ...

statistician
,
geneticist A geneticist is a biologist who studies genetics, the science of genes, heredity, and genetic variation, variation of organisms. A geneticist can be employed as a scientist or a lecturer. Geneticists may perform general research on genetic proce ...
, and academic. For his work in statistics, he has been described as "a genius who almost single-handedly created the foundations for modern statistical science" and "the single most important figure in 20th century statistics". In genetics, his work used
mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and their changes (cal ...
to combine
Mendelian genetics Mendelian inheritance is a type of biological Biology is the natural science Natural science is a branch of science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific m ...
and
natural selection Natural selection is the differential survival and reproduction of individuals due to differences in phenotype right , Here the relation between genotype and phenotype is illustrated, using a Punnett square, for the character of peta ...
; this contributed to the revival of
Darwinism Darwinism is a theory A theory is a reason, rational type of abstraction, abstract thinking about a phenomenon, or the results of such thinking. The process of contemplative and rational thinking is often associated with such processes as obse ...
in the early 20th-century revision of the theory of
evolution Evolution is change in the heritable Heredity, also called inheritance or biological inheritance, is the passing on of Phenotypic trait, traits from parents to their offspring; either through asexual reproduction or sexual reproduction, ...

evolution
known as the
modern synthesis Modern synthesis or modern evolutionary synthesis refers to several perspectives on evolutionary biology, namely: * Modern synthesis (20th century), the term coined by Julian Huxley in 1942 to denote the synthesis between Mendelian genetics and s ...
. For his contributions to biology, Fisher has been called "the greatest of Darwin’s successors". Fisher held strong views on
race Race, RACE or "The Race" may refer to: * Race (biology), an informal taxonomic classification within a species, generally within a sub-species * Race (human categorization), classification of humans into groups based on physical traits, and/or s ...
and
eugenics Eugenics ( ; ) is a set of beliefs and practices that aim to improve the genetic quality of a human population Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species of primate, characterized by bipedality, bipedalism ...
, insisting on racial differences; however, evidence suggests that, even though he was clearly a
eugenist Eugenics ( ; ) is a set of beliefs and practices that aim to improve the genetics, genetic quality of a human population, historically by excluding people and groups judged to be inferior or promoting those judged to be superior. In recent ye ...
, he did not support
scientific racism Scientific racism, sometimes termed biological racism, is the pseudoscientific Pseudoscience consists of statements, beliefs, or practices that claim to be both scientific and factual but are incompatible with the scientific method. Pseu ...
. Notably, he was a dissenting voice in the 1950
UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture) is a specialised agency United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous orga ...

UNESCO
statement ''
The Race Question The Race Question is the first of four UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture) is a specialised agency Un ...
''. In his own words: "Available scientific knowledge provides a firm basis for believing that the groups of mankind differ in their innate capacity for intellectual and emotional development". He was the Galton Professor of Eugenics at
University College London University College London, which Trade name, operates as UCL, is a major public university , public research university located in London, United Kingdom. UCL is a Member institutions of the University of London, member institution of the Federa ...
and editor of the
Annals of Eugenics Annals ( la, annāles, from , "year") are a concise historical History (from Ancient Greek, Greek , ''historia'', meaning "inquiry; knowledge acquired by investigation") is the study and the documentation of the past. Events before the Histor ...
. From 1919 onward, he worked at the
Rothamsted Experimental Station Rothamsted Research, previously known as the Rothamsted Experimental Station and then the Institute of Arable Crops Research, is one of the oldest agricultural experiment station, agricultural research institutions in the world, having been founded ...

Rothamsted Experimental Station
for 14 years; there, he analysed its immense data from crop experiments since the 1840s, and developed the
analysis of variance Analysis of variance (ANOVA) is a collection of statistical models and their associated estimation procedures (such as the "variation" among and between groups) used to analyze the differences among means. ANOVA was developed by the statistician ...
(ANOVA). He established his reputation there in the following years as a
biostatistician Biostatistics (also known as biometry) are the development and application of statistical methods to a wide range of topics in biology. It encompasses the design of biological experiments, the collection and analysis of data from those experimen ...
. He is known as one of the three principal founders of
population genetics Population genetics is a subfield of that deals with genetic differences within and between s, and is a part of . Studies in this branch of examine such phenomena as , , and . Population genetics was a vital ingredient in the of the . Its pri ...
. He outlined
Fisher's principle Fisher's principle is an evolutionary model that explains why the sex ratio of most species that produce offspring through sexual reproduction is approximately 1:1 between males and females. A. W. F. Edwards has remarked that it is "probably the mo ...
, the
Fisherian runaway Fisherian runaway or runaway selection is a sexual selection Sexual selection is a mode of natural selection Natural selection is the differential survival and reproduction of individuals due to differences in phenotype right ...
and
sexy son hypothesis The sexy son hypothesis in evolution Evolution is change in the heritable Heredity, also called inheritance or biological inheritance, is the passing on of Phenotypic trait, traits from parents to their offspring; either through ase ...
theories of
sexual selection Sexual selection is a mode of natural selection Natural selection is the differential survival and reproduction of individuals due to differences in phenotype right , Here the relation between genotype and phenotype is illustrat ...
. His contributions to statistics include promoting the method of
maximum likelihood In statistics, maximum likelihood estimation (MLE) is a method of estimating Estimation (or estimating) is the process of finding an estimate, or approximation An approximation is anything that is intentionally similar but not exactly equa ...
and deriving the properties of maximum likelihood estimators,
fiducial inference Fiducial inference is one of a number of different types of statistical inference. These are rules, intended for general application, by which conclusions can be drawn from Sample (statistics), samples of data. In modern statistical practice, att ...
, the derivation of various sampling distributions, founding principles of the
design of experiments The design of experiments (DOE, DOX, or experimental design) is the design of any task that aims to describe and explain the variation of information under conditions that are hypothesized to reflect the variation. The term is generally associ ...
, and much more.


Early life and education

Fisher was born in
East Finchley East Finchley is an area in North London North London is the northern part of London, England, north of the River Thames. It extends from Clerkenwell and Finsbury, on the edge of the City of London financial district, to Greater London, Gr ...
in
London, England London is the Capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the United Kingdom. It stands on the River Thames in south-east England at the head of a estuary down to the North Sea, and has b ...

London, England
, into a middle-class household; his father, George, was a successful partner in Robinson & Fisher, auctioneers and fine art dealers.Heritage: The Hampstead years of Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher – most significant British statistician of the 20th century
hamhigh.co.uk
He was one of twins, with the other twin being still-born and grew up the youngest, with three sisters and one brother. From 1896 until 1904 they lived at
Inverforth House Inverforth House (formally known as The Hill) is a large detached house at North End Way on the outskirts of Hampstead Hampstead () is an area in London, which lies northwest of Charing Cross, and extends from Watling Street, the A5 road (Ro ...
in London, where
English Heritage English Heritage (officially the English Heritage Trust) is a charity that manages over 400 historic monuments, buildings and places. These include prehistoric sites, medieval castles, Roman forts and country houses. The charity states that ...
installed a blue plaque in 2002, before moving to
Streatham Streatham ( ) is a district in south London London is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (o ...

Streatham
. His mother, Kate, died from acute
peritonitis Peritonitis is inflammation Inflammation (from la, inflammatio) is part of the complex biological response of body tissues to harmful stimuli, such as pathogen In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living ...
when he was 14, and his father lost his business 18 months later. Lifelong poor eyesight caused his rejection by the
British Army The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' us ...
for
World War I World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war engaged in by all or most of the principal nations of the world". The term is usually reserved for ...

World War I
,. but also developed his ability to visualize problems in
geometrical Geometry (from the grc, γεωμετρία; ''wikt:γῆ, geo-'' "earth", ''wikt:μέτρον, -metron'' "measurement") is, with arithmetic, one of the oldest branches of mathematics. It is concerned with properties of space that are related ...

geometrical
terms, not in writing mathematical solutions, or proofs. He entered
Harrow School (The Faithful Dispensation of the Gifts of God) , established = (Royal Charter A royal charter is a formal grant issued by a monarch under royal prerogative The royal prerogative is a body of customary authority, privilege ...
age 14 and won the school's Neeld Medal in mathematics. In 1909, he won a scholarship to study
Mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and their changes (cal ...
at
Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge Gonville & Caius College (often referred to simply as Caius ) is a Colleges of the University of Cambridge, constituent college of the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England. Originally founded in 1348, it is the fourth-oldest of the thi ...
. In 1912, he gained a First in
Mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and their changes (cal ...
. In 1915 he published a paper ''The evolution of sexual preference'' on
sexual selection Sexual selection is a mode of natural selection Natural selection is the differential survival and reproduction of individuals due to differences in phenotype right , Here the relation between genotype and phenotype is illustrat ...
and
mate choice Mate choice is one of the primary mechanisms under which evolution can occur. It is characterized by a "selective response by animals to particular stimuli" which can be observed as behavior.Bateson, Paul Patrick Gordon. "Mate Choice." Mate Choic ...
.


Career

During 1913–1919, Fisher worked as a statistician in the City of London and taught
physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. "Physical scie ...

physics
and maths at a sequence of public schools, at the
Thames Nautical Training College {{Use British English, date=October 2017 The Thames Nautical Training College, as it is now called, was, for over a hundred years, situated aboard ships named HMS ''Worcester''. London shipowners, marine insurance underwriters and merchants s ...
, and at
Bradfield College Bradfield College is a British co-educational independent school for day and boarding pupils, located in the small village of Bradfield in the English county of Berkshire Berkshire ( ; in the 17th century sometimes spelt phonetically ...
. There he settled with his new bride, Eileen Guinness, with whom he had two sons and six daughters.Box, ''R. A. Fisher'', pp. 35–50 In 1918 he published "
The Correlation Between Relatives on the Supposition of Mendelian Inheritance #REDIRECT The Correlation between Relatives on the Supposition of Mendelian Inheritance "The Correlation between Relatives on the Supposition of Mendelian Inheritance" is a science, scientific paper by Ronald Fisher which was published in the ''T ...
", in which he introduced the term
variance In probability theory Probability theory is the branch of mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces ...

variance
and proposed its formal analysis. He put forward a
genetics Genetics is a branch of biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, ...

genetics
conceptual model A conceptual model is a depiction, representation of a system. It consists of concepts used to help people knowledge, know, understanding, understand, or simulation, simulate a subject the model represents. It is also a set of concepts. In contras ...

conceptual model
showing that continuous variation amongst
phenotypic trait A phenotypic trait, simply trait, or character state is a distinct variant of a phenotypic In genetics Genetics is a branch of biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their ...
s measured by biostatisticians could be produced by the combined action of many discrete genes and thus be the result of
Mendelian inheritance Mendelian inheritance is a type of biological Biology is the natural science Natural science is a branch of science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific me ...

Mendelian inheritance
. This was the first step towards establishing
population genetics Population genetics is a subfield of that deals with genetic differences within and between s, and is a part of . Studies in this branch of examine such phenomena as , , and . Population genetics was a vital ingredient in the of the . Its pri ...
and
quantitative genetics Quantitative genetics deals with phenotypes that vary continuously (in characters such as height or mass)—as opposed to discretely identifiable phenotypes and gene-products (such as eye-colour, or the presence of a particular biochemical). Bo ...
, which demonstrated that
natural selection Natural selection is the differential survival and reproduction of individuals due to differences in phenotype right , Here the relation between genotype and phenotype is illustrated, using a Punnett square, for the character of peta ...
could change
allele frequencies Allele frequency, or gene frequency, is the relative frequency of an allele An allele (, ; ; modern formation from Greek ἄλλος ''állos'', "other") is one of two, or more, forms of a given gene In biology, a gene (from ''genos'' "... ...
in a population, resulting in reconciling its discontinuous nature with gradual
evolution Evolution is change in the heritable Heredity, also called inheritance or biological inheritance, is the passing on of Phenotypic trait, traits from parents to their offspring; either through asexual reproduction or sexual reproduction, ...

evolution
. Joan Box, Fisher's biographer and daughter, says that Fisher had resolved this problem already in 1911.


Rothamsted Experimental Station, 1919–1933

In 1919, he began working at the
Rothamsted Experimental Station Rothamsted Research, previously known as the Rothamsted Experimental Station and then the Institute of Arable Crops Research, is one of the oldest agricultural experiment station, agricultural research institutions in the world, having been founded ...

Rothamsted Experimental Station
in Hertfordshire, where he would remain for 14 years. He had been offered a position at the
Galton Laboratory The Galton Laboratory was a laboratory for research into eugenics and then into human genetics based at University College London in London, England. It was originally established in 1904, and became part of UCL's biology department in 1996. The an ...
in
University College London University College London, which Trade name, operates as UCL, is a major public university , public research university located in London, United Kingdom. UCL is a Member institutions of the University of London, member institution of the Federa ...
led by
Karl Pearson Karl Pearson (; born Carl Pearson; 27 March 1857 – 27 April 1936) was an English mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics ...

Karl Pearson
, but instead accepted a temporary role at Rothamsted to investigate the possibility of analysing the vast amount of crop data accumulated since 1842 from the "Classical Field Experiments". He analysed the data recorded over many years, and in 1921 published ''Studies in Crop Variation'', and his first application of the
analysis of variance Analysis of variance (ANOVA) is a collection of statistical models and their associated estimation procedures (such as the "variation" among and between groups) used to analyze the differences among means. ANOVA was developed by the statistician ...
(ANOVA). In 1928,
Joseph Oscar Irwin Joseph Oscar Irwin (17 December 1898 – 27 July 1982) was a British statistician who advanced the use of statistical methods in biological assay and other fields of laboratory medicine. Irwin's grasp of modern mathematical statistics disting ...
began a three-year stint at Rothamsted and became one of the first people to master Fisher's innovations. Between 1912 and 1922 Fisher recommended, analyzed (with heuristic proofs) and vastly popularized the
maximum likelihood estimation In statistics, maximum likelihood estimation (MLE) is a method of estimation theory, estimating the Statistical parameter, parameters of an assumed probability distribution, given some observed data. This is achieved by Mathematical optimization, ...
method. Fisher's 1924 article ''On a distribution yielding the error functions of several well known statistics'' presented
Pearson's chi-squared test Pearson's chi-squared test (\chi^2) is a statistical test applied to sets of categorical data In statistics Statistics is the discipline that concerns the collection, organization, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data. In app ...
and
William Gosset Major-General Sir William Gosset (18 January 1782 – 27 March 1848) was a British Army officer and public servant. Biography Commissioned into the Royal Engineers in 1798, Gosset was secretary to William à Court, 1st Baron Heytesbury, William ...

William Gosset
's
Student's t-distribution In probability and statistics, Student's ''t''-distribution (or simply the ''t''-distribution) is any member of a family of continuous probability distributions that arise when estimating the Expected value, mean of a Normal distribution, norm ...
in the same framework as the
Gaussian distribution In probability theory Probability theory is the branch of mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spac ...

Gaussian distribution
, and is where he developed
Fisher's z-distribution Fisher's ''z''-distribution is the statistical distribution Statistics is the discipline that concerns the collection, organization, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data Data (; ) are individual facts A fact ...
, a new statistical method commonly used decades later as the ''F''-distribution. He pioneered the principles of the
design of experiments The design of experiments (DOE, DOX, or experimental design) is the design of any task that aims to describe and explain the variation of information under conditions that are hypothesized to reflect the variation. The term is generally associ ...
and the statistics of small samples and the analysis of real data. In 1925 he published ''
Statistical Methods for Research Workers ''Statistical Methods for Research Workers'' is a classic book on statistics Statistics is the discipline that concerns the collection, organization, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data Data (; ) are individual fact ...
'', one of the 20th century's most influential books on statistical methods.
Fisher's method In statistics Statistics is the discipline that concerns the collection, organization, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric. In a mor ...
is a technique for
data fusion Data fusion is the process of integrating multiple data sources to produce more consistent, accurate, and useful information than that provided by any individual data source. Data fusion processes are often categorized as low, intermediate, or hig ...
or "
meta-analysis A meta-analysis is a statistical analysis that combines the results of multiple scientific studies The scientific method is an Empirical evidence, empirical method of acquiring knowledge that has characterized the development of science s ...
" (analysis of analyses). This book also popularized the
p-value In null hypothesis significance testing, the ''p''-value is the probability of obtaining test results at least as extreme as the results actually observed, under the assumption that the null hypothesis In inferential statistics, the null hypo ...
, which plays a central role in his approach. Fisher proposes the level p=0.05, or a 1 in 20 chance of being exceeded by chance, as a limit for statistical significance, and applies this to a normal distribution (as a two-tailed test), thus yielding the rule of two standard deviations (on a normal distribution) for statistical significance. The significance of
1.96 In probability Probability is the branch of mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which t ...
, the approximate value of the 97.5 percentile point of the normal distribution used in probability and statistics, also originated in this book.
"The value for which P = 0.05, or 1 in 20, is 1.96 or nearly 2 ; it is convenient to take this point as a limit in judging whether a deviation is to be considered significant or not."
In Table 1 of the work, he gave the more precise value 1.959964. In 1928, Fisher was the first to use
diffusion equation The diffusion equation is a parabolic partial differential equation. In physics, it describes the macroscopic behavior of many micro-particles in Brownian motion, resulting from the random movements and collisions of the particles (see Fick's laws ...
s to attempt to calculate the distribution of
allele An allele (, ; ; modern formation from Greek ἄλλος ''állos'', "other") is one of two, or more, forms of a given gene In biology, a gene (from ''genos'' "...Wilhelm Johannsen coined the word gene to describe the Mendelian_inheritance ...
frequencies and the estimation of
genetic linkage Genetic linkage is the tendency of DNA sequences A nucleic acid sequence is a succession of bases signified by a series of a set of five different letters that indicate the order of nucleotides Nucleotides are organic molecules , CH4; is ...
by maximum likelihood methods among populations. In 1930, ''
The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection ''The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection'' is a book by Ronald Fisher Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher (17 February 1890 – 29 July 1962) was a British polymath A polymath ( el, πολυμαθής, , "having learned much"; la, homo u ...
'' was first published by
Clarendon Press Oxford University Press (OUP) is the university press 200px, The Pitt Building in Cambridge, which used to be the headquarters of Cambridge University Press, and now serves as a conference centre for the Press. A university press is an academic ...

Clarendon Press
and is dedicated to
Leonard Darwin Leonard Darwin (15 January 1850 – 26 March 1943) was an English politician, economist and eugenicist Eugenics ( ; from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), off ...

Leonard Darwin
. A core work of the neo-Darwinian modern evolutionary synthesis, it helped define
population genetics Population genetics is a subfield of that deals with genetic differences within and between s, and is a part of . Studies in this branch of examine such phenomena as , , and . Population genetics was a vital ingredient in the of the . Its pri ...
, which Fisher founded alongside
Sewall Wright Sewall Green Wright FRS(For) Honorary FRSE Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE) is an award granted to individuals that the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Scotland's national academy of science and Literature, letters, judged to ...

Sewall Wright
and , and revived Darwin's neglected idea of
sexual selection Sexual selection is a mode of natural selection Natural selection is the differential survival and reproduction of individuals due to differences in phenotype right , Here the relation between genotype and phenotype is illustrat ...
. One of Fisher's favourite aphorisms was "Natural selection is a mechanism for generating an exceedingly high degree of improbability". Fisher's fame grew, and he began to travel and lecture widely. In 1931, he spent six weeks at the Statistical Laboratory at
Iowa State College Iowa State University of Science and Technology (Iowa State University, Iowa State, or ISU) is a Public university, public land-grant university, land-grant research university in Ames, Iowa, Ames, Iowa. It is the largest university in the state ...
where he gave three lectures per week, and met many American statisticians, including
George W. Snedecor George Waddel Snedecor (October 20, 1881 – February 15, 1974) was an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of ...
. He returned there again in 1936. In 2020, the Rothamsted institution (now named
Rothamsted Research Rothamsted Research, previously known as the Rothamsted Experimental Station and then the Institute of Arable Crops Research, is one of the oldest agricultural research institutions in the world, having been founded in 1843. It is located at Harpe ...

Rothamsted Research
) released a statement condemning Fisher's involvement with eugenics, stating "Rothamsted Research and the Lawes Agricultural Trust reject utterly the use of pseudo-scientific arguments to support racist or discriminatory views". An accommodation building, named after him when it was built in 2018, was subsequently renamed.


University College London, 1933–1943

In 1933, Fisher became the head of the Department of
Eugenics Eugenics ( ; ) is a set of beliefs and practices that aim to improve the genetic quality of a human population Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species of primate, characterized by bipedality, bipedalism ...
at
University College London University College London, which Trade name, operates as UCL, is a major public university , public research university located in London, United Kingdom. UCL is a Member institutions of the University of London, member institution of the Federa ...
. In 1934, he become editor of the ''Annals of Eugenics'' (now called ''
Annals of Human Genetics The ''Annals of Human Genetics'' is a bimonthly Peer review, peer-reviewed scientific journal covering human genetics. It was established in 1925 by Karl Pearson as the ''Annals of Eugenics'', with as subtitle, Darwin's epigram "I have no Faith in ...
''). In 1935, he published ''
The Design of Experiments ''The Design of Experiments'' is a 1935 book by the England, English statistics, statistician Ronald Fisher about the design of experiments and is considered a foundational work in experimental design. Among other contributions, the book introduc ...
'', which was "also fundamental, nd promotedstatistical technique and application... The mathematical justification of the methods was not stressed and proofs were often barely sketched or omitted altogether ....
his His or HIS may refer to: Computing * Hightech Information System HIS ("Hightech Information System Limited"; established 1987), is a Hong Kong-based graphics card manufacturer that produces Advanced Micro Devices, AMD (formerly known as ATI) ...

his
led H.B. Mann to fill the gaps with a rigorous mathematical treatment". In this book Fisher also outlined the
Lady tasting tea In the design of experiments The design of experiments (DOE, DOX, or experimental design) is the design of any task that aims to describe and explain the variation of information under conditions that are hypothesized to reflect the variat ...
, now a famous
design A design is a plan or specification for the construction of an object or system or for the implementation of an activity or process, or the result of that plan or specification in the form of a prototype A prototype is an early sample, mode ...
of a statistical
randomized experiment In science Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is something that is truth, true. The usual test for a ...
which uses
Fisher's exact test Fisher's exact test is a statistical significance In statistical hypothesis testing A statistical hypothesis test is a method of statistical inference used to determine a possible conclusion from two different, and likely conflicting, hypotheses ...
and is the original exposition of Fisher's notion of a
null hypothesis In inferential statistics, the null hypothesis (often denoted ''H''0) is that there is no difference between two possibilities. The null hypothesis is that the observed difference is due to chance alone. Using statistical tests it is possible to ...
. The same year he also published a paper on
fiducial inference Fiducial inference is one of a number of different types of statistical inference. These are rules, intended for general application, by which conclusions can be drawn from Sample (statistics), samples of data. In modern statistical practice, att ...
and applied it to the
Behrens–Fisher problem In statistics Statistics is the discipline that concerns the collection, organization, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric. In a mor ...
, the solution to which, proposed first by Walter Behrens and a few years later by Fisher, is the Behrens–Fisher distribution. In 1936 he introduced the
Iris flower data set The ''Iris'' flower data set or Fisher's ''Iris'' data set is a Multivariate statistics, multivariate data set introduced by the British statistician and biologist Ronald Fisher in his 1936 paper ''The use of multiple measurements in taxonomic pro ...
as an example of discriminant analysis. In his 1937 paper ''The wave of advance of advantageous genes'' he proposed
Fisher's equation In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities an ...
in the context of
population dynamics Population dynamics is the type of mathematics used to model and study the size and age composition of population Population typically refers the number of people in a single area whether it be a city or town, region, country, or the world. ...
to describe the spatial spread of an advantageous
allele An allele (, ; ; modern formation from Greek ἄλλος ''állos'', "other") is one of two, or more, forms of a given gene In biology, a gene (from ''genos'' "...Wilhelm Johannsen coined the word gene to describe the Mendelian_inheritance ...
and explored its travelling wave solutions. Out of this also came the
Fisher–Kolmogorov equation File:Youngronaldfisher2.JPG, 199px, Ronald Fisher in 1913 In mathematics, Fisher's equation (named after statistics, statistician and biology, biologist Ronald Fisher) also known as the Kolmogorov–Petrovsky–Piskunov equation (named after Andr ...
. In 1937, he visited the
Indian Statistical Institute Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) is a higher education and Research Research is "creative and systematic work undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge". It involves the collection, organization and analysis of information to in ...
in Calcutta, and its one part-time employee, P. C. Mahalanobis, often returning to encourage its development. He was the guest of honour at its 25th anniversary in 1957, when it had 2000 employees. In 1938, Fisher and
Frank Yates Frank Yates FRS FRS may also refer to: Government and politics * Facility Registry System, a centrally managed Environmental Protection Agency database that identifies places of environmental interest in the United States * Family Resources Surve ...
described the
Fisher–Yates shuffle The Fisher–Yates shuffle is an algorithm for generating a random permutation of a finite sequence—in plain terms, the algorithm shuffling, shuffles the sequence. The algorithm effectively puts all the elements into a hat; it continually deter ...
in their book ''Statistical tables for biological, agricultural and medical research''. Their description of the algorithm used pencil and paper; a table of random numbers provided the randomness.


University of Cambridge, 1943–1956

In 1943, along with A.S. Corbet and he published a paper on
relative species abundance Relative species abundance is a component of biodiversity and is a measure of how common or rare a species is relative to other species in a defined location or community.Hubbell, S. P. 2001. ''The unified neutral theory of biodiversity and biogeogr ...
where he developed the logseries to fit two different abundance data sets In the same year he took the Balfour Chair of Genetics where the Italian researcher
Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza (; 25 January 1922 – 31 August 2018) was an Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic * ...
was recruited in 1948, establishing a one-man unit of bacterial genetics. In 1936, Fisher used a
Pearson's chi-squared test Pearson's chi-squared test (\chi^2) is a statistical test applied to sets of categorical data In statistics Statistics is the discipline that concerns the collection, organization, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data. In app ...
to analyze Mendel's data and concluded that Mendel's results with the predicted ratios were far too perfect, suggesting that adjustments (intentional or unconscious) had been made to the data to make the observations fit the hypothesis. Later authors have claimed Fisher's analysis was flawed, proposing various statistical and botanical explanations for Mendel's numbers. In 1947, Fisher cofounded the journal ''
Heredity Heredity, also called inheritance or biological inheritance, is the passing on of Phenotypic trait, traits from parents to their offspring; either through asexual reproduction or sexual reproduction, the offspring cell (biology), cells or or ...
'' with
Cyril Darlington Cyril Dean Darlington (19 December 1903 – 26 March 1981) was an English biology, biologist, genetics, geneticist and Eugenics, eugenicist, who discovered the mechanics of chromosomal crossover, its role in inheritance, and therefore its import ...
and in 1949 he published ''The Theory of Inbreeding.'' In 1950 he published "Gene Frequencies in a Cline Determined by Selection and Diffusion". He developed computational
algorithm In and , an algorithm () is a finite sequence of , computer-implementable instructions, typically to solve a class of problems or to perform a computation. Algorithms are always and are used as specifications for performing s, , , and other ...

algorithm
s for analyzing data from his balanced experimental designs, with various editions and translations, becoming a standard reference work for scientists in many disciplines. In
ecological genetics Ecological genetics is the study of genetics Genetics is a branch of biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molec ...
he and E. B. Ford showed how the force of natural selection was much stronger than had been assumed, with many ecogenetic situations (such as polymorphism) being maintained by the force of selection. During this time he also worked on mouse chromosome mapping; breeding the mice in laboratories in his own house. Fisher publicly spoke out against the 1950 study showing that smoking
tobacco Tobacco is the common name of several plants in the genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defini ...

tobacco
causes
lung cancer Lung cancer, also known as lung carcinoma, since about 98–99% of all lung cancers are carcinomas, is a malignant lung tumor characterized by uncontrolled cell growth in tissue (biology), tissues of the lung. Lung carcinomas derive from trans ...

lung cancer
, arguing that
correlation does not imply causation The phrase "correlation does not imply causation" refers to the inability to legitimately deduce a cause-and-effect relationship between two events or variables solely on the basis of an observed association or correlation In statistics ...
. To quote his biographers Yates and Mather, "It has been suggested that the fact that Fisher was employed as consultant by the
tobacco Tobacco is the common name of several plants in the genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defini ...

tobacco
firms in this controversy casts doubt on the value of his arguments. This is to misjudge the man. He was not above accepting financial reward for his labours, but the reason for his interest was undoubtedly his dislike and mistrust of puritanical tendencies of all kinds; and perhaps also the personal solace he had always found in tobacco." Others, however, have suggested that his analysis was biased by professional conflicts and his own love of smoking. He gave the 1953
Croonian lecture The Croonian Medal and Lecture is a prestigious award given at the invitation of the Royal Society of London and the Royal College of Physicians. Among the papers of William Croone at his death in 1684, was a plan to endow one lectureship at bot ...
on population genetics. In the winter of 1954–1955 Fisher met
Debabrata Basu Debabrata Basu (5 July 1924 – 24 March 2001) was an Indian statistician who made fundamental contributions to the foundations of statistics The foundations of statistics concern the epistemology, epistemological debate in statistics over ...
, the
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi Hindi (Devanagari: , हिंदी, ISO 15919, ISO: ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: , ISO 15919, ISO: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in Hindi Belt, ...

India
n statistician who wrote in 1988, "With his reference set argument, Sir Ronald was trying to find a ''
via media ''Via media'' is a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the ...
'' between the two poles of Statistics – Berkeley and . My efforts to understand this Fisher compromise led me to the
likelihood principle In statistics, the likelihood principle is the proposition that, given a statistical model, all the evidence in a Sampling (statistics), sample relevant to model parameters is contained in the likelihood function. A likelihood function arises from ...
".


Adelaide, 1957–1962

In 1957, a retired Fisher emigrated to
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous List of islands of Australia, sma ...

Australia
, where he spent time as a senior research fellow at the Australian
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is an Australian Government The Australian Government, also known as the Commonwealth Government, is the national government of Australia Australia, offici ...
(CSIRO) in
Adelaide Adelaide ( ) is the capital city A capital or capital city is the municipality holding primary status in a Department (country subdivision), department, country, Constituent state, state, province, or other administrative region, usually ...

Adelaide
. Following surgery for colon cancer, he died of post-operative complications in an Adelaide hospital in 1962. His remains are interred in , Adelaide.


Legacy

Fisher's doctoral students included
Walter Bodmer Sir Walter Fred Bodmer (born 10 January 1936) is a German-born British human geneticist. Early life Bodmer was born in Frankfurt Frankfurt, officially Frankfurt am Main (; Hessian dialects, Hessian: , "Franks, Frank ford (crossing), f ...
, D. J. Finney,
Ebenezer Laing Ebenezer Laing, (28 June 1931 – 19 April 2015) was a Ghanaian people, Ghanaian Botany, botanist and geneticist who served as the Pro-vice-chancellor, Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Legon. He was a professor at the University ...
, Mary F. Lyon and C. R. Rao. Although a prominent opponent of
Bayesian statistics #REDIRECT Bayesian statistics Bayesian statistics is a theory in the field of statistics based on the Bayesian probability, Bayesian interpretation of probability where probability expresses a ''degree of belief'' in an Event (probability theory), ...
, Fisher was the first to use the term "Bayesian", in 1950. The 1930 ''
The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection ''The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection'' is a book by Ronald Fisher Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher (17 February 1890 – 29 July 1962) was a British polymath A polymath ( el, πολυμαθής, , "having learned much"; la, homo u ...
'' is commonly cited in biology books, and outlines many important concepts, such as: *
Parental investment Parental investment, in evolutionary biology Evolutionary biology is the subfield of biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical pr ...
, is any parental expenditure (time, energy etc.) that benefits one
offspring In biology, offspring are the young creation of living organisms, produced either by a Asexual reproduction, single organism or, in the case of sexual reproduction, two organisms. Collective offspring may be known as a brood or progeny in a more ...

offspring
at a cost to
parent A parent is a caregiver of the offspring In biology, offspring are the young creation of living organisms, produced either by a Asexual reproduction, single organism or, in the case of sexual reproduction, two organisms. Collective offspring ...

parent
s' ability to invest in other components of fitness, *
Fisherian runaway Fisherian runaway or runaway selection is a sexual selection Sexual selection is a mode of natural selection Natural selection is the differential survival and reproduction of individuals due to differences in phenotype right ...
, explaining how the desire for a
phenotypic trait A phenotypic trait, simply trait, or character state is a distinct variant of a phenotypic In genetics Genetics is a branch of biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their ...
in one sex combined with the trait in the other sex (for example a
peacock Peafowl is a common name for three bird species in the genera Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, def ...

peacock
's tail) creates a runaway evolutionary extremizing of the trait. *
Fisher's principle Fisher's principle is an evolutionary model that explains why the sex ratio of most species that produce offspring through sexual reproduction is approximately 1:1 between males and females. A. W. F. Edwards has remarked that it is "probably the mo ...
, which explains why the
sex ratio The sex ratio is the ratio In mathematics, a ratio indicates how many times one number contains another. For example, if there are eight oranges and six lemons in a bowl of fruit, then the ratio of oranges to lemons is eight to six (that is, ...
is mostly 1:1 in nature. * Reproductive value which implies that sexually reproductive value measures the contribution of an individual of a given age to the future growth of the
population Population typically refers the number of people in a single area whether it be a city or town, region, country, or the world. Governments typically quantify the size of the resident population within their jurisdiction by a process called a ...

population
. *
Fisher's fundamental theorem of natural selection Fisher's fundamental theorem of natural selection is an idea about genetic variance in population genetics developed by the statistics, statistician and evolutionary biology, evolutionary biologist Ronald Fisher. The proper way of applying the abst ...
, which states that "the rate of increase in fitness of any
organism In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological ...

organism
at any time is equal to its
genetic variance Genetic variance is a concept outlined by the England, English biologist and statistics, statistician Ronald Fisher in his Fisher's fundamental theorem of natural selection, fundamental theorem of natural selection which he outlined in his 1930 boo ...
in fitness at that time." Fisher, R.A. (1930) ''
The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection ''The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection'' is a book by Ronald Fisher Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher (17 February 1890 – 29 July 1962) was a British polymath A polymath ( el, πολυμαθής, , "having learned much"; la, homo u ...
'', Clarendon Press, Oxford
*
Fisher's geometric model Fisher's geometric model (FGM) is an evolutionary model of the effect sizes and effect on fitness (biology), fitness of spontaneous mutations proposed by Ronald Fisher to explain the distribution of effects of mutations that could contribute to adap ...
, an
evolution Evolution is change in the heritable Heredity, also called inheritance or biological inheritance, is the passing on of Phenotypic trait, traits from parents to their offspring; either through asexual reproduction or sexual reproduction, ...

evolution
ary model of the
effect size In statistics Statistics is the discipline that concerns the collection, organization, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric. In a mo ...
s on fitness of spontaneous
mutations Image:Darwin Hybrid Tulip Mutation 2014-05-01.jpg, A red tulip exhibiting a partially yellow petal due to a mutation in its genes In biology, a mutation is an alteration in the base sequence, nucleotide sequence of the genome of an organism, vi ...

mutations
proposed by Fisher to explain the distribution of effects of mutations that could contribute to
adaptive Adaptation, in biology, is the process or trait by which organisms or population better match their environment Adaptation may also refer to: Arts * Adaptation (arts), a transfer of a work of art from one medium to another ** Film adaptation, a ...
evolution. *
Sexy son hypothesis The sexy son hypothesis in evolution Evolution is change in the heritable Heredity, also called inheritance or biological inheritance, is the passing on of Phenotypic trait, traits from parents to their offspring; either through ase ...
, which hypothesizes that females may choose arbitrarily attractive male mates simply because they are attractive, thus increasing the attractiveness of their sons who attract more mates of their own. This is in contrast to theories of female mate choice based on the assumption that females choose attractive males because the attractive traits are markers of male viability. *
Mimicry In evolutionary biology, mimicry is an evolved resemblance between an organism and another object, often an organism of another species. Mimicry may evolve between different species, or between individuals of the same species. Often, mimicry f ...

Mimicry
, a similarity of one species to another that protects one or both. * The evolution of dominance, a relationship between
allele An allele (, ; ; modern formation from Greek ἄλλος ''állos'', "other") is one of two, or more, forms of a given gene In biology, a gene (from ''genos'' "...Wilhelm Johannsen coined the word gene to describe the Mendelian_inheritance ...
s of one
gene In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mecha ...

gene
, in which the effect on
phenotype In genetics Genetics is a branch of biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular inter ...

phenotype
of one allele masks the contribution of a second allele at the same locus (genetics), locus. *Heterozygote advantage which was later found to play a frequent role in genetic polymorphism. *Demonstrating that the probability of a mutation increasing the fitness of an organism decreases proportionately with the magnitude of the mutation and that larger populations carry more variation so that they have a greater chance of survival. Fisher is also known for: * Linear discriminant analysis is a generalization of Fisher's linear discriminant * Fisher information, see also scoring algorithm also known as Fisher's scoring, and Minimum Fisher information, a variational principle which, when applied with the proper constraints needed to reproduce empirically known expectation values, determines the best probability distribution that characterizes the system. * ''F''-distribution, arises frequently as the null distribution of a test statistic, most notably in the analysis of variance * Fisher–Tippett–Gnedenko theorem : Fisher's contribution to this was made in 1927 * Fisher–Tippett distribution *Fisher-Yates shuffle algorithm * Von Mises–Fisher distribution * Inverse probability, a term Fisher used in 1922, referring to "the fundamental paradox of inverse probability" as the source of the confusion between statistical terms which refer to the true value to be estimated, with the actual value arrived at by estimation, which is subject to error. * Resampling (statistics), Fisher's permutation test * Fisher's inequality * Sufficient statistic, when a statistic is ''sufficient'' with respect to a statistical model and its associated unknown parameter if "no other statistic that can be calculated from the same sample (statistics), sample provides any additional information as to the value of the parameter". *Fisher's noncentral hypergeometric distribution, a generalization of the hypergeometric distribution, where sampling probabilities are modified by weight factors. * Student's t-distribution, Student's ''t''-distribution, widely used in statistics.. * The concept of an ancillary statistic and the notion (the ancillarity principle) that one should condition on ancillary statistics.


Personal life and beliefs

He married Eileen Guinness, with whom he had two sons and six daughters. His marriage disintegrated during World War II, and his older son George, an aviator, was killed in combat. His daughter Joan, who wrote a biography of her father, married the statistician George E. P. Box. According to Yates and Mather, "His large family, in particular, reared in conditions of great financial stringency, was a personal expression of his genetic and evolutionary convictions." Fisher was noted for being loyal, and was seen as a patriot, a member of the Church of England, politically conservative, as well as a scientific rationalist. He developed a reputation for carelessness in his dress and was the archetype of the absent-minded professor. H. Allen Orr describes him in the ''Boston Review'' as a "deeply devout Anglican who, between founding modern statistics and population genetics, penned articles for church magazines". In a 1955 broadcast on Science and Christianity, he said: Fisher was involved with the Society for Psychical Research.


Views on race

Between 1950 and 1951, Fisher, along with other leading geneticists and anthropologists of his time, was asked to comment on a statement that
UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture) is a specialised agency United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous orga ...

UNESCO
was preparing on the "Nature of Race and Racial Differences". The statement, along with the comments and criticisms of a large number of scientists including Fisher, is published in "The Race Concept: Results of an Inquiry." Fisher was one of four scientists who opposed the statement. In his own words, Fisher's opposition is based on "one fundamental objection to the Statement," which "destroys the very spirit of the whole document." He believes that human groups differ profoundly "in their innate capacity for intellectual and emotional development" and concludes from this that the "practical international problem is that of learning to share the resources of this planet amicably with persons of materially different nature, and that this problem is being obscured by entirely well-intentioned efforts to minimize the real differences that exist." Fisher's opinions are clarified by his more detailed comments on Section 5 of the statement, which are concerned with psychological and mental differences between the races. Section 5 concludes as follows: Of the entire statement, Section 5 recorded the most dissenting viewpoints. It was recorded that "Fisher's attitude … is the same as Hermann Joseph Muller, Muller's and Alfred Sturtevant, Sturtevant's". Muller's criticism was recorded in more detail and was noted to "represent an important trend of ideas": Fisher's own words were quoted as follows:


Eugenics

In 1911 Fisher became founding Chairman of the University of Cambridge Eugenics Society, whose other founding members included John Maynard Keynes, R. C. Punnett, and Horace Darwin. After members of the Cambridge Society – including Fisher – stewarded the First International Eugenics Congress in London in summer 1912, a link was forged with the Eugenics Society (UK). He saw
eugenics Eugenics ( ; ) is a set of beliefs and practices that aim to improve the genetic quality of a human population Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species of primate, characterized by bipedality, bipedalism ...
as addressing pressing social and scientific issues that encompassed and drove his interest in both genetics and statistics. During World War I Fisher started writing book reviews for ''The Eugenics Review'' and volunteered to undertake all such reviews for the journal, being hired for a part-time position. The last third of ''
The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection ''The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection'' is a book by Ronald Fisher Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher (17 February 1890 – 29 July 1962) was a British polymath A polymath ( el, πολυμαθής, , "having learned much"; la, homo u ...
'' focused on eugenics, attributing the fall of civilizations to the fertility of their upper classes being diminished, and used British 1911 census data to show an inverse relationship between fertility and social class, partly due, he claimed, to the lower financial costs and hence increasing social status of families with fewer children. He proposed the abolition of extra allowances to large families, with the allowances proportional to the earnings of the father. He served in several official committees to promote eugenics, including the Committee for Legalizing Eugenic Sterilization which drafted legislation aiming to limit the fertility of "feeble minded high-grade defectives ... comprising a tenth of the total population". In 1934, he resigned from the Eugenics Society over a dispute about increasing the power of scientists within the movement. Fisher held a favourable view of eugenics even after World War II, when he wrote a testimony on behalf of the Nazi-associated eugenicist Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer, whose students had included Josef Mengele who conducted experiments at Auschwitz. Fisher wrote that he has no doubt that the Nazi Party, Nazi party "sincerely wished to benefit the German racial stock, especially by the elimination of manifest defectives" and that he would give "his support to such a movement".


Recognition


Appraisal of scientific merits

Fisher was elected to the Royal Society in 1929. He was made a Knight Bachelor by Queen Elizabeth II in 1952 and awarded the Linnean Society of London Darwin–Wallace Medal in 1958. He won the Copley Medal and the Royal Medal. He was an Invited Speaker of the International Congress of Mathematicians, ICM in 1924 in Toronto and in 1928 in Bologna. In 1950, Maurice Wilkes and David Wheeler (British computer scientist), David Wheeler used the Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator to solve a differential equation relating to gene frequencies in a paper by Ronald Fisher. This represents the first use of a computer for a problem in the field of biology. The Kent distribution (also known as the Fisher–Bingham distribution) was named after him and Christopher Bingham in 1982, while the Fisher kernel was named after Fisher in 1998. The R. A. Fisher Lectureship was a North American Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS) annual lecture prize, established in 1963, until the name was changed to COPSS Distinguished Achievement Award and Lectureship in 2020. On 28 April 1998 a minor planet, 21451 Fisher, was named after him. In 2010, the R.A. Fisher Chair in Statistical Genetics was established in University College London to recognise Fisher's extraordinary contributions to both statistics and genetics. Anders Hald called Fisher "a genius who almost single-handedly created the foundations for modern statistical science", while Richard Dawkins named him "the greatest biologist since Charles Darwin, Darwin":
Not only was he the most original and constructive of the architects of the neo-Darwinian synthesis, Fisher also was the father of modern statistics and experimental design. He therefore could be said to have provided researchers in biology and medicine with their most important research tools, as well as with the modern version of biology's central theorem.
Geoffrey Miller (psychologist), Geoffrey Miller said of him:
To biologists, he was an architect of the "modern synthesis" that used mathematical models to integrate Mendelian genetics with Darwin's selection theories. To psychologists, Fisher was the inventor of various statistical tests that are still supposed to be used whenever possible in psychology journals. To farmers, Fisher was the founder of experimental agricultural research, saving millions from starvation through rational crop breeding programs.Geoffrey Miller (psychologist), Miller, Geoffrey (2000). ''The Mating Mind: how sexual choice shaped the evolution of human nature'', London: Heineman, (also Doubleday, ) p.54.


Reappraisal of his contentious views on race and eugenics

In June 2020, Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, Gonville and Caius College announced that Sir Ronald Fisher window, a 1989 stained-glass window commemorating Fisher's work would be removed because of his connection with eugenics. In the same month,
Rothamsted Research Rothamsted Research, previously known as the Rothamsted Experimental Station and then the Institute of Arable Crops Research, is one of the oldest agricultural research institutions in the world, having been founded in 1843. It is located at Harpe ...

Rothamsted Research
released a statement condemning Fisher's involvement with eugenics, stating "Rothamsted Research and the Lawes Agricultural Trust reject utterly the use of pseudo-scientific arguments to support racist or discriminatory views". An accommodation building, built in 2018 and previously named after him, was subsequently renamed.
University College London University College London, which Trade name, operates as UCL, is a major public university , public research university located in London, United Kingdom. UCL is a Member institutions of the University of London, member institution of the Federa ...
also decided to remove his name from its Centre for Computational Biology.


Bibliography


References


Citations


Sources

* * * *


Further reading

* * * *


External links

*
A Guide to R. A. Fisher by John Aldrich

University of Adelaide Library for bibliography, biography, 2 volumes of correspondence and many articles

Classics in the History of Psychology for the first edition of ''Statistical Methods for Research Workers''


{{DEFAULTSORT:Fisher, Ronald 1890 births 1962 deaths 20th-century English mathematicians Academics of the University of Cambridge Academics of University College London English Christians Alumni of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge Biostatisticians English Anglicans English eugenicists English geneticists English statisticians Evolutionary biologists Fellows of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge Fellows of the Royal Society Foreign associates of the National Academy of Sciences History of genetics Knights Bachelor People educated at Harrow School People from East Finchley Population geneticists Presidents of the Royal Statistical Society Recipients of the Copley Medal Rothamsted statisticians Royal Medal winners Modern synthesis (20th century) Probability theorists Theoretical biologists