Ronald Fisher

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For the New Zealand cricketer, see Ronald Fisher (cricketer). Ronald Fisher_sentence_0

Ronald Fisher_table_infobox_0


Ronald Fisher FRSRonald Fisher_header_cell_0_0_0

BornRonald Fisher_header_cell_0_1_0 Ronald Aylmer Fisher

(1890-02-17)17 February 1890 London, England, UKRonald Fisher_cell_0_1_1

DiedRonald Fisher_header_cell_0_2_0 29 July 1962(1962-07-29) (aged 72)

Adelaide, SA, AustraliaRonald Fisher_cell_0_2_1

NationalityRonald Fisher_header_cell_0_3_0 BritishRonald Fisher_cell_0_3_1
EducationRonald Fisher_header_cell_0_4_0 Harrow SchoolRonald Fisher_cell_0_4_1
Alma materRonald Fisher_header_cell_0_5_0 University of CambridgeRonald Fisher_cell_0_5_1
Known forRonald Fisher_header_cell_0_6_0 Fisher's principle

Fisher informationRonald Fisher_cell_0_6_1

AwardsRonald Fisher_header_cell_0_7_0 Ronald Fisher_cell_0_7_1
FieldsRonald Fisher_header_cell_0_8_0 Statistics, genetics, and evolutionary biologyRonald Fisher_cell_0_8_1
InstitutionsRonald Fisher_header_cell_0_9_0 Ronald Fisher_cell_0_9_1
Academic advisorsRonald Fisher_header_cell_0_10_0 James Hopwood Jeans

F. J. M. StrattonRonald Fisher_cell_0_10_1

Doctoral studentsRonald Fisher_header_cell_0_11_0 Ronald Fisher_cell_0_11_1

Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher FRS (17 February 1890 – 29 July 1962) was a British statistician, geneticist, and professor. Ronald Fisher_sentence_1

For his work in statistics, he has been described as "a genius who almost single-handedly created the foundations for modern statistical science" and "the single most important figure in 20th century statistics". Ronald Fisher_sentence_2

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. Ronald Fisher_sentence_3

For his contributions to biology, Fisher has been called "the greatest of Darwin’s successors". Ronald Fisher_sentence_4

Fisher held strong views on race, insisting on racial differences. Ronald Fisher_sentence_5

Notably, he was a dissenting voice in the 1950 UNESCO statement The Race Question. Ronald Fisher_sentence_6

From 1919 onward, he worked at the Rothamsted Experimental Station for 14 years; there, he analysed its immense data from crop experiments since the 1840s, and developed the analysis of variance (ANOVA). Ronald Fisher_sentence_7

He established his reputation there in the following years as a biostatistician. Ronald Fisher_sentence_8

He is known as one of the three principal founders of population genetics. Ronald Fisher_sentence_9

He outlined Fisher's principle, the Fisherian runaway and sexy son hypothesis theories of sexual selection. Ronald Fisher_sentence_10

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. Ronald Fisher_sentence_11

Early life and education Ronald Fisher_section_0

Fisher was born in East Finchley in London, England, into a middle-class household; his father, George, was a successful partner in Robinson & Fisher, auctioneers and fine art dealers. Ronald Fisher_sentence_12

He was one of twins, with the other twin being still-born and grew up the youngest, with three sisters and one brother. Ronald Fisher_sentence_13

From 1896 until 1904 they lived at Inverforth House in London, where English Heritage installed a blue plaque in 2002, before moving to Streatham. Ronald Fisher_sentence_14

His mother, Kate, died from acute peritonitis when he was 14, and his father lost his business 18 months later. Ronald Fisher_sentence_15

Lifelong poor eyesight caused his rejection by the British Army for World War I, but also developed his ability to visualize problems in geometrical terms, not in writing mathematical solutions, or proofs. Ronald Fisher_sentence_16

He entered Harrow School age 14 and won the school's Neeld Medal in mathematics. Ronald Fisher_sentence_17

In 1909, he won a scholarship to study Mathematics at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. Ronald Fisher_sentence_18

In 1912, he gained a First in Mathematics. Ronald Fisher_sentence_19

In 1915 he published a paper The evolution of sexual preference on sexual selection and mate choice. Ronald Fisher_sentence_20

Career Ronald Fisher_section_1

During 1913–1919, Fisher worked as a statistician in the City of London and taught physics and maths at a sequence of public schools, at the Thames Nautical Training College, and at Bradfield College. Ronald Fisher_sentence_21

There he settled with his new bride, Eileen Guinness, with whom he had two sons and six daughters. Ronald Fisher_sentence_22

In 1918 he published "The Correlation Between Relatives on the Supposition of Mendelian Inheritance", in which he introduced the term variance and proposed its formal analysis. Ronald Fisher_sentence_23

He put forward a genetics conceptual model showing that continuous variation amongst phenotypic traits measured by biostatisticians could be produced by the combined action of many discrete genes and thus be the result of Mendelian inheritance. Ronald Fisher_sentence_24

This was the first step towards establishing population genetics and quantitative genetics, which demonstrated that natural selection could change allele frequencies in a population, resulting in reconciling its discontinuous nature with gradual evolution. Ronald Fisher_sentence_25

Joan Box, Fisher's biographer and daughter, says that Fisher had resolved this problem already in 1911. Ronald Fisher_sentence_26

Rothamsted Experimental Station, 1919–1933 Ronald Fisher_section_2

In 1919, he began working at the Rothamsted Experimental Station in Hertfordshire, where he would remain for 14 years. Ronald Fisher_sentence_27

He had been offered a position at the Galton Laboratory in University College London led by Karl Pearson, but instead accepted a temporary role at Rothamsted to investigate the possibility of analysing the vast amount of crop data accumulated since 1842 from the "Classical Field Experiments". Ronald Fisher_sentence_28

He analysed the data recorded over many years, and in 1921 published Studies in Crop Variation, and his first application of the analysis of variance (ANOVA). Ronald Fisher_sentence_29

In 1928, Joseph Oscar Irwin began a three-year stint at Rothamsted and became one of the first people to master Fisher's innovations. Ronald Fisher_sentence_30

Between 1912 and 1922 Fisher recommended, analyzed (with heuristic proofs) and vastly popularized the maximum likelihood estimation method. Ronald Fisher_sentence_31

Fisher's 1924 article On a distribution yielding the error functions of several well known statistics presented Pearson's chi-squared test and William Gosset's Student's t-distribution in the same framework as the Gaussian distribution, and is where he developed Fisher's z-distribution, a new statistical method commonly used decades later as the F-distribution. Ronald Fisher_sentence_32

He pioneered the principles of the design of experiments and the statistics of small samples and the analysis of real data. Ronald Fisher_sentence_33

In 1925 he published Statistical Methods for Research Workers, one of the 20th century's most influential books on statistical methods. Ronald Fisher_sentence_34

Fisher's method is a technique for data fusion or "meta-analysis" (analysis of analyses). Ronald Fisher_sentence_35

This book also popularized the p-value, which plays a central role in his approach. Ronald Fisher_sentence_36

Fisher proposes the level p=0.05, or a 1 in 20 chance of being exceeded by chance, as a limit for statistical significance, and applies this to a normal distribution (as a two-tailed test), thus yielding the rule of two standard deviations (on a normal distribution) for statistical significance. Ronald Fisher_sentence_37

The significance of 1.96, the approximate value of the 97.5 percentile point of the normal distribution used in probability and statistics, also originated in this book. Ronald Fisher_sentence_38

In Table 1 of the work, he gave the more precise value 1.959964. Ronald Fisher_sentence_39

In 1928, Fisher was the first to use diffusion equations to attempt to calculate the distribution of allele frequencies and the estimation of genetic linkage by maximum likelihood methods among populations. Ronald Fisher_sentence_40

In 1930, The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection was first published by Clarendon Press and is dedicated to Leonard Darwin. Ronald Fisher_sentence_41

A core work of the neo-Darwinian modern evolutionary synthesis, it helped define population genetics, which Fisher founded alongside Sewall Wright and J. Ronald Fisher_sentence_42 B. S. Haldane, and revived Darwin's neglected idea of sexual selection. Ronald Fisher_sentence_43

One of Fisher's favourite aphorisms was "Natural selection is a mechanism for generating an exceedingly high degree of improbability". Ronald Fisher_sentence_44

Fisher's fame grew, and he began to travel and lecture widely. Ronald Fisher_sentence_45

In 1931, he spent six weeks at the Statistical Laboratory at Iowa State College where he gave three lectures per week, and met many American statisticians, including George W. Snedecor. Ronald Fisher_sentence_46

He returned there again in 1936. Ronald Fisher_sentence_47

In 2020, the Rothamsted institution (now named Rothamsted Research) released a statement condemning Fisher's involvement with eugenics, stating "Rothamsted Research and the Lawes Agricultural Trust reject utterly the use of pseudo-scientific arguments to support racist or discriminatory views". Ronald Fisher_sentence_48

An accommodation building, named after him when it was built in 2018, was subsequently renamed. Ronald Fisher_sentence_49

University College London, 1933–39 Ronald Fisher_section_3

In 1933, Fisher became the head of the Department of Eugenics at University College London. Ronald Fisher_sentence_50

In 1934, he become editor of the Annals of Eugenics (now called Annals of Human Genetics). Ronald Fisher_sentence_51

In 1935, he published The Design of Experiments, which was "also fundamental, [and promoted] statistical technique and application... Ronald Fisher_sentence_52

The mathematical justification of the methods was not stressed and proofs were often barely sketched or omitted altogether .... [This] led H.B. Ronald Fisher_sentence_53 Mann to fill the gaps with a rigorous mathematical treatment". Ronald Fisher_sentence_54

In this book Fisher also outlined the Lady tasting tea, now a famous design of a statistical randomized experiment which uses Fisher's exact test and is the original exposition of Fisher's notion of a null hypothesis. Ronald Fisher_sentence_55

The same year he also published a paper on fiducial inference and applied it to the Behrens–Fisher problem, the solution to which, proposed first by Walter Behrens and a few years later by Fisher, is the Behrens–Fisher distribution. Ronald Fisher_sentence_56

In 1936 he introduced the Iris flower data set as an example of discriminant analysis. Ronald Fisher_sentence_57

In his 1937 paper The wave of advance of advantageous genes he proposed Fisher's equation in the context of population dynamics to describe the spatial spread of an advantageous allele and explored its travelling wave solutions. Ronald Fisher_sentence_58

Out of this also came the Fisher–Kolmogorov equation. Ronald Fisher_sentence_59

In 1937, he visited the Indian Statistical Institute in Calcutta, and its one part-time employee, P. Ronald Fisher_sentence_60 C. Mahalanobis, often returning to encourage its development. Ronald Fisher_sentence_61

He was the guest of honour at its 25th anniversary in 1957, when it had 2000 employees. Ronald Fisher_sentence_62

In 1938, Fisher and Frank Yates described the Fisher–Yates shuffle in their book Statistical tables for biological, agricultural and medical research. Ronald Fisher_sentence_63

Their description of the algorithm used pencil and paper; a table of random numbers provided the randomness. Ronald Fisher_sentence_64

University of Cambridge, 1940–1956 Ronald Fisher_section_4

In 1943, along with A.S. Ronald Fisher_sentence_65 Corbet and C.B. Ronald Fisher_sentence_66 Williams he published a paper on relative species abundance where he developed the logseries to fit two different abundance data sets In the same year he took the Balfour Chair of Genetics where the Italian researcher Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza was recruited in 1948, establishing a one-man unit of bacterial genetics. Ronald Fisher_sentence_67

In 1936, Fisher used a Pearson's chi-squared test to analyze Mendel's data and concluded that Mendel's results with the predicted ratios were far too perfect, suggesting that adjustments (intentional or unconscious) had been made to the data to make the observations fit the hypothesis. Ronald Fisher_sentence_68

Later authors have claimed Fisher's analysis was flawed, proposing various statistical and botanical explanations for Mendel's numbers. Ronald Fisher_sentence_69

In 1947, Fisher cofounded the journal Heredity with Cyril Darlington and in 1949 he published The Theory of Inbreeding. Ronald Fisher_sentence_70

In 1950 he published "Gene Frequencies in a Cline Determined by Selection and Diffusion". Ronald Fisher_sentence_71

He developed computational algorithms for analyzing data from his balanced experimental designs, with various editions and translations, becoming a standard reference work for scientists in many disciplines. Ronald Fisher_sentence_72

In ecological genetics he and E. Ronald Fisher_sentence_73 B. Ford showed how the force of natural selection was much stronger than had been assumed, with many ecogenetic situations (such as polymorphism) being maintained by the force of selection. Ronald Fisher_sentence_74

During this time he also worked on mouse chromosome mapping; breeding the mice in laboratories in his own house. Ronald Fisher_sentence_75

Fisher publicly spoke out against the 1950 study showing that smoking tobacco causes lung cancer, arguing that correlation does not imply causation. Ronald Fisher_sentence_76

To quote his biographers Yates and Mather, "It has been suggested that the fact that Fisher was employed as consultant by the tobacco firms in this controversy casts doubt on the value of his arguments. Ronald Fisher_sentence_77

This is to misjudge the man. Ronald Fisher_sentence_78

He was not above accepting financial reward for his labours, but the reason for his interest was undoubtedly his dislike and mistrust of puritanical tendencies of all kinds; and perhaps also the personal solace he had always found in tobacco.". Ronald Fisher_sentence_79

Others, however, have suggested that his analysis was biased by professional conflicts and his own love of smoking. Ronald Fisher_sentence_80

He gave the 1953 Croonian lecture on population genetics. Ronald Fisher_sentence_81

In the winter of 1954–1955 Fisher met Debabrata Basu, the Indian statistician who wrote in 1988, "With his reference set argument, Sir Ronald was trying to find a via media between the two poles of Statistics – Berkeley and Bayes. Ronald Fisher_sentence_82

My efforts to understand this Fisher compromise led me to the likelihood principle". Ronald Fisher_sentence_83

Adelaide, 1957–1962 Ronald Fisher_section_5

In 1957, a retired Fisher emigrated to Australia, where he spent time as a senior research fellow at the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Adelaide. Ronald Fisher_sentence_84

Following surgery for colon cancer, he died of post-operative complications in an Adelaide hospital in 1962. Ronald Fisher_sentence_85

His remains are interred in St Peter's Cathedral, Adelaide. Ronald Fisher_sentence_86

Personal life and beliefs Ronald Fisher_section_6

He married Eileen Guinness, with whom he had two sons and six daughters. Ronald Fisher_sentence_87

His marriage disintegrated during World War II, and his older son George, an aviator, was killed in combat. Ronald Fisher_sentence_88

His daughter Joan, who wrote a biography of her father, married the statistician George E. P. Box. Ronald Fisher_sentence_89

According to Yates and Mather, "His large family, in particular, reared in conditions of great financial stringency, was a personal expression of his genetic and evolutionary convictions." Ronald Fisher_sentence_90

Fisher was noted for being loyal, and was seen as a patriot, a member of the Church of England, politically conservative, as well as a scientific rationalist. Ronald Fisher_sentence_91

He developed a reputation for carelessness in his dress and was the archetype of the absent-minded professor. Ronald Fisher_sentence_92

H. Ronald Fisher_sentence_93 Allen Orr describes him in the Boston Review as a "deeply devout Anglican who, between founding modern statistics and population genetics, penned articles for church magazines". Ronald Fisher_sentence_94

In a 1955 broadcast on Science and Christianity, he said: Ronald Fisher_sentence_95

Fisher was involved with the Society for Psychical Research. Ronald Fisher_sentence_96

Legacy Ronald Fisher_section_7

Fisher's doctoral students included Walter Bodmer, D. Ronald Fisher_sentence_97 J. Finney, Mary F. Lyon and C. Ronald Fisher_sentence_98 R. Rao Although a prominent opponent of Bayesian statistics, Fisher was the first to use the term "Bayesian", in 1950. Ronald Fisher_sentence_99

The 1930 The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection is commonly cited in biology books, and outlines many important concepts, such as: Ronald Fisher_sentence_100

Ronald Fisher_unordered_list_0

  • Parental investment, is any parental expenditure (time, energy etc.) that benefits one offspring at a cost to parents' ability to invest in other components of fitness,Ronald Fisher_item_0_0
  • Fisherian runaway, explaining how the desire for a phenotypic trait in one sex combined with the trait in the other sex (for example a peacock's tail) creates a runaway evolutionary extremizing of the trait.Ronald Fisher_item_0_1
  • Fisher's principle, which explains why the sex ratio is mostly 1:1 in nature.Ronald Fisher_item_0_2
  • Reproductive value which implies that sexually reproductive value measures the contribution of an individual of a given age to the future growth of the population.Ronald Fisher_item_0_3
  • Fisher's fundamental theorem of natural selection, which states that "the rate of increase in fitness of any organism at any time is equal to its genetic variance in fitness at that time."Ronald Fisher_item_0_4
  • Fisher's geometric model, an evolutionary model of the effect sizes on fitness of spontaneous mutations proposed by Fisher to explain the distribution of effects of mutations that could contribute to adaptive evolution.Ronald Fisher_item_0_5
  • Sexy son hypothesis, which hypothesizes that females may choose arbitrarily attractive male mates simply because they are attractive, thus increasing the attractiveness of their sons who attract more mates of their own. This is in contrast to theories of female mate choice based on the assumption that females choose attractive males because the attractive traits are markers of male viability.Ronald Fisher_item_0_6
  • Mimicry, a similarity of one species to another that protects one or bothRonald Fisher_item_0_7
  • The evolution of dominance, a relationship between alleles of one gene, in which the effect on phenotype of one allele masks the contribution of a second allele at the same locus.Ronald Fisher_item_0_8
  • Heterozygote advantage which was later found to play a frequent role in genetic polymorphism.Ronald Fisher_item_0_9
  • Demonstrating that the probability of a mutation increasing the fitness of an organism decreases proportionately with the magnitude of the mutation and that larger populations carry more variation so that they have a greater chance of survival.Ronald Fisher_item_0_10

Fisher is also known for: Ronald Fisher_sentence_101

Ronald Fisher_unordered_list_1

Recognition Ronald Fisher_section_8

Fisher was elected to the Royal Society in 1929. Ronald Fisher_sentence_102

He was made a Knight Bachelor by Queen Elizabeth II in 1952 and awarded the Linnean Society of London Darwin–Wallace Medal in 1958. Ronald Fisher_sentence_103

He won the Copley Medal and the Royal Medal. Ronald Fisher_sentence_104

He was an Invited Speaker of the ICM in 1924 in Toronto and in 1928 in Bologna. Ronald Fisher_sentence_105

In 1950, Maurice Wilkes and David Wheeler used the Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator to solve a differential equation relating to gene frequencies in a paper by Ronald Fisher. Ronald Fisher_sentence_106

This represents the first use of a computer for a problem in the field of biology. Ronald Fisher_sentence_107

The Kent distribution (also known as the Fisher–Bingham distribution) was named after him and Christopher Bingham in 1982, while the Fisher kernel was named after Fisher in 1998. Ronald Fisher_sentence_108

The R. Ronald Fisher_sentence_109 A. Fisher Lectureship was a North American Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS) annual lecture prize, established in 1963, until the name was changed to COPSS Distinguished Achievement Award and Lectureship in 2020. Ronald Fisher_sentence_110

On 28 April 1998 a minor planet, 21451 Fisher, was named after him. Ronald Fisher_sentence_111

In 2010, the R.A. Fisher Chair in Statistical Genetics was established in University College London to recognise Fisher's extraordinary contributions to both statistics and genetics. Ronald Fisher_sentence_112

Anders Hald called Fisher "a genius who almost single-handedly created the foundations for modern statistical science", while Richard Dawkins named him "the greatest biologist since Darwin": Ronald Fisher_sentence_113

Geoffrey Miller said of him: Ronald Fisher_sentence_114

Eugenics Ronald Fisher_section_9

In 1911 Fisher became founding Chairman of the University of Cambridge Eugenics Society, whose other founding members included John Maynard Keynes, R. Ronald Fisher_sentence_115 C. Punnett, and Horace Darwin. Ronald Fisher_sentence_116

After members of the Cambridge Society – including Fisher – stewarded the First International Eugenics Congress in London in summer 1912, a link was forged with the Eugenics Society (UK). Ronald Fisher_sentence_117

He saw eugenics as addressing pressing social and scientific issues that encompassed and drove his interest in both genetics and statistics. Ronald Fisher_sentence_118

During World War I Fisher started writing book reviews for The Eugenics Review and volunteered to undertake all such reviews for the journal, being hired for a part-time position. Ronald Fisher_sentence_119

The last third of The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection focused on eugenics, attributing the fall of civilizations to the fertility of their upper classes being diminished, and used British 1911 census data to show an inverse relationship between fertility and social class, partly due, he claimed, to the lower financial costs and hence increasing social status of families with fewer children. Ronald Fisher_sentence_120

He proposed the abolition of extra allowances to large families, with the allowances proportional to the earnings of the father. Ronald Fisher_sentence_121

He served in several official committees to promote eugenics, including the Committee for Legalizing Eugenic Sterilization which drafted legislation aiming to limit the fertility of "feeble minded high-grade defectives ... comprising a tenth of the total population". Ronald Fisher_sentence_122

In 1934, he resigned from the Eugenics Society over a dispute about increasing the power of scientists within the movement. Ronald Fisher_sentence_123

Fisher held a favourable view of eugenics even after World War II, when he wrote a testimony on behalf of the Nazi-associated eugenicist Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer, whose students had included Josef Mengele who conducted experiments at Auschwitz. Ronald Fisher_sentence_124

Fisher wrote that he has no doubt that the Nazi party "sincerely wished to benefit the German racial stock, especially by the elimination of manifest defectives" and that he would give "his support to such a movement". Ronald Fisher_sentence_125

In June 2020, Gonville and Caius College announced that a 1989 stained-glass window commemorating Fisher's work would be removed because of his connection with eugenics. Ronald Fisher_sentence_126

Additionally, also in June 2020, Rothamsted Research released a statement condemning Fisher's involvement with eugenics, stating "Rothamsted Research and the Lawes Agricultural Trust reject utterly the use of pseudo-scientific arguments to support racist or discriminatory views". Ronald Fisher_sentence_127

An accommodation building, built in 2018 and previously named after him, was subsequently renamed. Ronald Fisher_sentence_128

Views on race Ronald Fisher_section_10

Further information: The Race Question Ronald Fisher_sentence_129

Between 1950 and 1951, Fisher, along with other leading geneticists and anthropologists of his time, was asked to comment on a statement that UNESCO was preparing on the "Nature of Race and Racial Differences". Ronald Fisher_sentence_130

The statement, along with the comments and criticisms of a large number of scientists including Fisher, is published in "The Race Concept: Results of an Inquiry." Ronald Fisher_sentence_131

Fisher was one of four scientists who opposed the statement. Ronald Fisher_sentence_132

In his own words, Fisher's opposition is based on "one fundamental objection to the Statement," which "destroys the very spirit of the whole document." Ronald Fisher_sentence_133

He believes that human groups differ profoundly "in their innate capacity for intellectual and emotional development" and concludes from this that the "practical international problem is that of learning to share the resources of this planet amicably with persons of materially different nature, and that this problem is being obscured by entirely well-intentioned efforts to minimize the real differences that exist." Ronald Fisher_sentence_134

Fisher's opinions are clarified by his more detailed comments on Section 5 of the statement, which are concerned with psychological and mental differences between the races. Ronald Fisher_sentence_135

Section 5 concludes as follows: Ronald Fisher_sentence_136

Of the entire statement, Section 5 recorded the most dissenting viewpoints. Ronald Fisher_sentence_137

It was recorded that "Fisher's attitude … is the same as Muller's and Sturtevant's". Ronald Fisher_sentence_138

Muller's criticism was recorded in more detail and was noted to "represent an important trend of ideas": Ronald Fisher_sentence_139

Fisher's own words were quoted as follows: Ronald Fisher_sentence_140

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: Fisher.