The Annals of Statistics

Gauss and the Invention of Least Squares

Stephen M. Stigler

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Abstract

The most famous priority dispute in the history of statistics is that between Gauss and Legendre, over the discovery of the method of least squares. New evidence, both documentary and statistical, is discussed, and an attempt is made to evaluate Gauss's claim. It is argued (though not conclusively) that Gauss probably possessed the method well before Legendre, but that he was unsuccessful in communicating it to his contemporaries. Data on the French meridian arc are presented that could, conceivably, permit a definitive verification of the claim.

Article information

Source
Ann. Statist., Volume 9, Number 3 (1981), 465-474.

Dates
First available in Project Euclid: 12 April 2007

Permanent link to this document
https://projecteuclid.org/euclid.aos/1176345451

Digital Object Identifier
doi:10.1214/aos/1176345451

Mathematical Reviews number (MathSciNet)
MR615423

Zentralblatt MATH identifier
0477.62001

JSTOR
links.jstor.org

Subjects
Primary: 62A03
Secondary: 01A55: 19th century 86A30: Geodesy, mapping problems

Keywords
Legendre history of statistics geodesy metric system priority disputes nonlinear least squares

Citation

Stigler, Stephen M. Gauss and the Invention of Least Squares. Ann. Statist. 9 (1981), no. 3, 465--474. doi:10.1214/aos/1176345451. https://projecteuclid.org/euclid.aos/1176345451


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