Cross Validated is a question and answer site for people interested in statistics, machine learning, data analysis, data mining, and data visualization. It's 100% free, no registration required.

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

Do you know Bradley Efron? He's a great man.
How did Efron imagine or think about "bootstrap" for the first time?

share|improve this question
It's common knowledge that Angels descending from the heavens above to supply this valuable piece of statistical insight. – Glen Apr 3 '14 at 4:35
Angels? Surely not. Fischer whispers to you in your tea as you're making it. And if it's really late at night, Kolmogorov and Feller shout at you from your vodka glass. – rocinante Apr 3 '14 at 4:38

In his own words:

My first thoughts on the bootstrap centered around variance and bias estimation. This was natural enough given the bootstrap’s roots in the jackknife literature, with Quenouille (1949) on bias and Tukey (1958) on variance setting the agenda. The oldest note I can find says simply “What is the jackknife an approximation to?” Poor English, but a good question that resulted in the 1977 Rietz Lecture, “Bootstrap Methods: Another Look at the Jackknife” (Efron, 1979). Jaeckel’s (1972) Bell Labs memorandum on the infinitesimal jackknife was particularly helpful in answering the approximation question.

share|improve this answer
I love that the question asks about Efron's first thought and the answer literally opens with a quotation from Efron describing his first thoughts. – Behacad Apr 3 '14 at 4:53

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.