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Discussion Paper 0919, "Mathematics in the Statistical Society 1883-1933", by John Aldrich

This paper considers the place of mathematical methods based on probability in the work of the London (later Royal) Statistical Society in the half-century 1883-1933. The end-points are chosen because mathematical work started to appear regularly in 1883 and 1933 saw the formation of the Industrial and Agricultural Research Section– to promote these particular applications was to encourage mathematical methods. In the period three movements are distinguished, associated with major figures in the history of mathematical statistics–F. Y. Edgeworth, Karl Pearson and R. A. Fisher. The first two movements were based on the conviction that the use of mathematical methods could transform the way the Society did its traditional work in economic/social statistics while the third movement was associated with an enlargement in the scope of statistics. The study tries to synthesise research based on the Society’s archives with research on the wider history of statistics.

Keynames: Arthur Bowley, F. Y. Edgeworth, R. A. Fisher, Egon Pearson, Karl Pearson, Ernest Snow, John Wishart, G. Udny Yule.

Keywords: History of Statistics, Royal Statistical Society, mathematical methods.