Open Access
August, 1989 Who Solved the Secretary Problem?
Thomas S. Ferguson
Statist. Sci. 4(3): 282-289 (August, 1989). DOI: 10.1214/ss/1177012493


In Martin Gardner's Mathematical Games column in the February 1960 issue of Scientific American, there appeared a simple problem that has come to be known today as the Secretary Problem, or the Marriage Problem. It has since been taken up and developed by many eminent probabilists and statisticians and has been extended and generalized in many different directions so that now one can say that it constitutes a "field" within mathematics-probability-optimization. The object of this article is partly historical (to give a fresh view of the origins of the problem, touching upon Cayley and Kepler), partly review of the field (listing the subfields of recent interest), partly serious (to answer the question posed in the title), and partly entertainment. The contents of this paper were first given as the Allen T. Craig lecture at the University of Iowa, 1988.


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Thomas S. Ferguson. "Who Solved the Secretary Problem?." Statist. Sci. 4 (3) 282 - 289, August, 1989.


Published: August, 1989
First available in Project Euclid: 19 April 2007

zbMATH: 0788.90080
MathSciNet: MR1015277
Digital Object Identifier: 10.1214/ss/1177012493

Keywords: marriage problem , minimax rules , relative ranks , search problem , secretary problem , stopping times

Rights: Copyright © 1989 Institute of Mathematical Statistics

Vol.4 • No. 3 • August, 1989
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