Ronald Fisher

Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher FRS[5] (17 February 1890 – 29 July 1962) was a British polymath, mathematician, statistician, geneticist, and academic.[6] For his work in statistics, he has been described as "a genius who almost single-handedly created the foundations for modern statistical science"[7] and "the single most important figure in 20th century statistics".[8] In genetics, his work used mathematics to combine Mendelian genetics and natural selection; this contributed to the revival of Darwinism in the early 20th-century revision of the theory of evolution known as the modern synthesis. For his contributions to biology, Fisher has been called "the greatest of Darwin’s successors".[9]

Ronald Fisher

Fisher in 1913
Ronald Aylmer Fisher

(1890-02-17)17 February 1890
Died29 July 1962(1962-07-29) (aged 72)
Adelaide, SA, Australia
EducationHarrow School
Alma materUniversity of Cambridge
Known forFisher's exact test
Fisher's inequality
Fisher's principle
Fisher's geometric model
Fisher's Iris data set
Fisher's linear discriminant
Fisher's equation
Fisher information
Fisher's method
Fisherian runaway
Fisher's fundamental theorem of natural selection
Fisher's noncentral hypergeometric distribution
Fisher's z-distribution
Fisher transformation
Fisher consistency
Fisher–Tippett distribution
Fisher–Tippett–Gnedenko theorem
Fisher–Yates shuffle
Fisher–Race blood group system
Behrens–Fisher problem
Cornish–Fisher expansion
von Mises–Fisher distribution
Wright–Fisher model
Ancillary statistic
Fiducial inference
Intraclass correlation
Infinitesimal model
Inverse probability
Lady tasting tea
Null hypothesis
Maximum likelihood estimation
Particulate inheritance
Random effects model
Relative species abundance
Reproductive value
Sexy son hypothesis
Sufficient statistic
Analysis of variance
Scientific career
FieldsStatistics, genetics, and evolutionary biology
Academic advisorsJames Hopwood Jeans
F. J. M. Stratton[1]
Doctoral students

Fisher held strong views on race and eugenics, insisting on racial differences; however, evidence suggests that, even though he was clearly a eugenist,[10] he did not support scientific racism.[10] Notably, he was a dissenting voice in the 1950 UNESCO statement The Race Question.[11]:27 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".[11]:56 He was the Galton Professor of Eugenics at University College London and editor of the Annals of Eugenics.[12]

From 1919 onward, he worked at the Rothamsted Experimental Station for 14 years;[13] there, he analysed its immense data from crop experiments since the 1840s, and developed the analysis of variance (ANOVA). He established his reputation there in the following years as a biostatistician.

He is known as one of the three principal founders of population genetics. He outlined Fisher's principle, the Fisherian runaway and sexy son hypothesis theories of sexual selection. His contributions to statistics include promoting the method of maximum likelihood and deriving the properties of maximum likelihood estimators, fiducial inference, the derivation of various sampling distributions, founding principles of the design of experiments, and much more.