The Annals of Statistics

On Rereading R. A. Fisher

Leonard J. Savage

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Fisher's contributions to statistics are surveyed. His background, skills, temperament, and style of thought and writing are sketched. His mathematical and methodological contributions are outlined. More attention is given to the technical concepts he introduced or emphasized, such as consistency, sufficiency, efficiency, information, and maximum likelihood. Still more attention is given to his conception and concepts of probability and inference, including likelihood, the fiducial argument, and hypothesis testing. Fisher is at once very near to and very far from modern statistical thought generally.

Article information

Ann. Statist. Volume 4, Number 3 (1976), 441-500.

First available in Project Euclid: 12 April 2007

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Mathematical Reviews number (MathSciNet)

Zentralblatt MATH identifier

Primary: 62A99: None of the above, but in this section

62-03 Statistical inference R. A. Fisher R. A. Fisher's contributions to statistics estimation consistency sufficiency efficiency information maximum likelihood likelihood function likelihood principle hypothesis testing fiducial probability ancillary statistics design of experiments randomization statistics induction inductive behavior inverse probability probability definition reference set Bayes' rule sampling distributions Fisher consistency Behrens-Fisher problem $k$-statistics probit randomization tests karl Pearson Edgeworth


Savage, Leonard J. On Rereading R. A. Fisher. The Annals of Statistics 4 (1976), no. 3, 441--500. doi:10.1214/aos/1176343456.

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