Cross Validated is a question and answer site for people interested in statistics, machine learning, data analysis, data mining, and data visualization. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Richard Dawkins has described Ronald Fisher as "the father of modern statistics and experimental design", a line which is quoted in Fisher's Wikipedia biography. And also Anders Hald called him "a genius who almost single-handedly created the foundations for modern statistical science" in his book A History of Mathematical Statistics.

I just wonder what exactly he did so people give him such a high evaluation?

share|improve this question
Did you read this – Greenparker Mar 12 at 22:53
yes. p value (or a small portion of hypothesis test) and meta analysis. – Frank Mar 12 at 22:59
This would be a great post for HSM. – Antoni Parellada Mar 12 at 23:31
Considering how Bayesian statistics -- which Fisher loathed -- is gaining ground, we might say we're in a post-modern statistical era. The Wikipedia page even lists his fiducial inference as if it were a success when it was a failure. – Wayne Mar 12 at 23:46
@Antoni I think at some point in the future, as HSM continues to grow and thrive, HSM might become a better home for statistical history questions. But there's such a strong expertise base on CV, with many users who have a real interest in historical aspects, that CV is arguably the better place for now. (I think in the long run, CV will likely continue to be the better place for the more "conceptual" history questions.) – Silverfish Mar 13 at 0:25

Some concepts he invented: Sufficiency, efficiency, ANOVA, ancillarity, p-value and probably a host of others.

The likelihood function and mle's had precursors, but was popularized by him.

share|improve this answer
+1 While Fisher certainly should get credit in relation to it, the concept of the p-value appears to have existed, at least informally, before FIsher's work. Pearson is clearly calculating p-values in his 1900 paper on the chi square goodness of fit test, and treats what he calculates (if only described in passing), as if it were on obvious, accepted thing to do. One gets the impression that it wasn't seen as a new concept introduced in that paper. Of course similar things might be said of many concepts ... they're often "around" for a while before someone formalizes it. – Glen_b Mar 12 at 23:49

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.