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Studies in the History of Probability and Statistics. XXXIV Napoleonic Statistics: The Work of Laplace

Stephen M. Stigler
Biometrika
Vol. 62, No. 2 (Aug., 1975), pp. 503-517
Published by: Oxford University Press on behalf of Biometrika Trust
DOI: 10.2307/2335393
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2335393
Page Count: 15
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Studies in the History of Probability and Statistics. XXXIV Napoleonic Statistics: The Work of Laplace
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Abstract

The work of Pierre Simon, Marquis de Laplace, was more important to the early development of mathematical statistics than that of any other individual. This paper reviews both his major contributions to statistical theory, and his application of this theory to scientific problems. These applications paradoxically reveal both surprising depth and unexpected limitations to his understanding of statistical concepts. Two of Laplace's investigations are examined in detail. The first of these is a solution of a multiple regression problem arising in an astronomical problem he solved in 1787. Secondly, a meteorological investigation Laplace made in 1823 and 1827 is discussed, and his methods of dealing with a multiple regression problem with correlated observations and with a multiple comparison problem are explained.

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