John Aldrich



University of Southampton


SO17 1BJ





Room 3007  Murray Building (58)   

Office hours: Tuesday 2.30-3.30; Thursday 10.30-11.30


Tutees: Welcome    Now and Looking Ahead   Exam preparation

Old links  Applying for Master’s   ICOM 6003.



Research interests:  History of statistics, economics and mathematics








Ricardo on Value

James Mill on the Gains from Trade





Figures from the History of Probability and Statistics 


Probability & Statistics Earliest Uses  



Harold Jeffreys    Harold Jeffreys as a Statistician



Karl Pearson   Karl Pearson: A Reader's Guide                                     Karl Pearson’s Hampstead home


Ronald Fisher

A Guide to R. A. Fisher 

Ronald Fisher’s childhood home

Student’s review of Fisher’s Statistical Methods     

E. S. Pearson’s reviews of Fisher’s Statistical Methods

Harold Hotelling’s review of Fisher’s Statistical Methods

Leon Isserlis’s review of Fisher’s Statistical Methods

Nature review of Fisher’s Statistical Methods     

BMJ review of Fisher’s Statistical Methods

Likelihood and Probability in Fisher’s Statistical Methods for Research Workers             W. P. Elderton’s review of Fisher’s Statistical Methods



JEHPS  I contribute the annual Recent Publications in the History of Probability and Statistics. See also Anders Hald (1913-2007): Writings on the History of Probability and Statistics.





Mathematical Words  I contribute to Jeff Miller’s Earliest Known Uses pages (Words of Mathematics and Mathematical Symbols). I have written a companion Mathematical Words: Origins and Sources  as well as pages Symbols in Probability & Statistics  and Symbols for Matrices and Vectors.

There are partial indexes: to these pages

Probability & Statistics Earliest Uses

Set Theory and Logic Earliest Uses   

Matrix and Linear Algebra  Earliest Uses

Vector Analysis Earliest Uses

Calculus and Analysis Earliest Uses



Mathematics PhD  I have produced some notes on the history of The Mathematics PhD in the UK for the Mathematics Genealogy Project.



Presentations  (mainly for the pictures)


  • Nightingale and the Statistical Society  Slides


  • Rothamsted in the Making of Sir Ronald Fisher ScD FRS  Slides. For related text see below under Under consideration


  • The Statistician and the “Stats”—R. A. Fisher and the RSS Slides


  • “I didn't want to  be a statistician”  Slides


  • Francis Galton “Parent of Modern Statistical Methods” Slides


  • The Information Imperative in Fisher’s Theory of Statistics  Slides


  • The Model Worlds of Frisch 1930  Slides


  • Eugenics in British Economics from Marshall to Meade Slides


  • Tales of Two Societies: London and Paris 1860-1940. Slides. For related text see below under Published.


  • Fisher and Mathematical Statistics  Slides


·       The Enigma of Karl Pearson and Bayesian Inference. Slides.


·       “But you have to Remember P. J. Daniell of Sheffield” Slides. For related text see below under Published.


·       P. J. Danielll of King Edward’s School and Beyond  Slides. For related text see below under Published.


·       The Econometricians’ Statisticians 1895-1945  Slides.  For related text see below under Published.


·       Bowley’s Bayesian Sampling Theory with Some Context. pdf  For related text see below under Under consideration





Selected Papers


Under consideration


  • “It took a global conflict”— the Second World War and Probability in British Mathematics  here


  • Rothamsted in the Making of Sir Ronald Fisher ScD FRS  here


  • “Bootstrapping”—A Contemporary Statistical Term (2012)  here


  • Eugenics in British Economics from Marshall to Meade  here


  • Goodness, Economic Welfare and the National Dividend—the Pigouvian Triad  here


  • From 1809 and to 1925—two essays on the history of the theory of errors (2011)  here


  • Probability, Statistics & Political Economy in John Stuart Mill's Logic (2008)  here
  • The Enigma of Karl Pearson and  Bayesian Inference (2008) here
  • Professor A. L. Bowley’s Theory of the Representative Method (2008) here



  • Keynes among the Statisticians. History of Political Economy. Vol. 40 (2), 2008, 265-316. pdf
  • Comment on S. L. Zabell's paper: On Student's 1908 paper “The probable error of a mean” Journal of the American Statistical Association, 2008, vol 103, 8-11,  here
  • Information and Economics in Fisher’s Design of Experiments. International Statistical Review. Vol. 75(2), 2007, 131-149. pdf
  • (with Anna Staszewska) The Experiment in Macroeconometrics.  Journal of Economic Methodology. Vol 14 (2) 2007, 143-166. pdf.
  • The Statistical Education of Harold Jeffreys, International Statistical Review, Vol. 73(3), 2005, pp. 289-308. pdf.
  • The Discovery of Comparative Advantage, Journal of the History of Economic Thought Vol 26 (3) 2004, pp. 379-399. pdf
  • The Language of the English Biometric School, International Statistical Review, Vol. 71(1), 2003, pp. 109-131. pdf
  • How Likelihood and Identification went Bayesian, International Statistical Review, Vol. 70 (1), 2002, pp. 79-98.  pdf
  • Fisher’s “Inverse Probability” of 1930, International Statistical Review, Vol.68 (2), 2000, pp. 155-172.  pdf
  • The Jevonian Revolution in International Trade Theory, Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Vol 22 (1) 2000, pp. 65-84. pdf
  • Determinacy in the Linear Model: Gauss to Bose & Koopmans, International Statistical Review, Vol.67 (2), 1999, pp. 211-9.  pdf
  • Doing Least Squares: Perspectives from Gauss and Yule, International Statistical Review, Vol.66 (1), 1998, pp. 61-81.  pdf
  • Multiple Regression Grumbles, pp. 153-177 in: D Conniffe ed, Roy Geary: Irish Statistician, Dublin Oaktree Press, 1997.
  • R.A. Fisher and the Making of Maximum Likelihood 1912-1922, Statistical Science Vol.12 (3), 1997, pp.162-176. Project Euclid.
  • The Course of Marshall's Theorising about Demand, History of Political Economy, Vol.28 (2), 1996, pp.171-218. pdf
  • Correlations Genuine and Spurious in Pearson and Yule, Statistical Science, Vol.10 (4), 1995, 364-376. pdf
  • Haavelmo's Identification Theory. Econometric Theory, Vol 10, 1994, 198-219.  pdf
  • Reiersøl, Geary and the Idea of Instrumental Variables. Economic and Social Review, 24(3), 1993, 247-274. pdf
  • Probability and Depreciation: A History of the Stochastic Approach to Index Numbers, History of Political Economy, 24(3), 1992, 657-686. pdf


  • Autonomy, Oxford Economic Papers, 41(1), 1989, 15-34. pdf


  • Jevons as Statistician: The Role of Probability, Manchester School, 55 (3), 1987, 233-256. pdf


  • Pigou’s Wage-Good Method, Recherches Economiques de Louvain, 45 (4), 1979, 317-350.  pdf


  • An Alternative Derivation of Durbin's h Test, Econometrica, 46(6), 1978, 1493-1494.  pdf


Discussion papers

  • Cowles Exogeneity and CORE Exogeneity, Southampton University Economics Discussion Paper  1993.
  • (with Janne Rayner) Distinguishability and Identifiability Southampton University Economics Discussion Paper  1992.



Book reviews

D. Howie (2002) Interpreting Probability: Controversies and Developments in the Early Twentieth Century in History of Political Economy.

T. M. Porter (2004) Karl Pearson: the Scientific Life in a Statistical Age in American Scientist.


Free sites I use

RSS History of Statistics Section

Electronic Journal for History of Probability and Statistics/Journal Electronique d'Histoire des Probabilités et de la Statistique. 

Bayesian Analysis

 COPAC  merged online catalogues of major university research libraries in the UK and Ireland PLUS the British Library, the National Library of Scotland, and the National Library of Wales.


National  archives Search isn’t confined to NA’s own holdings


AIM25 archives in London and M25 area


Royal Society archives includes EC certificates of election, RR referees’ reports, MSB Maurice Bartlett papers etc.


Internet Archive


Statistics-History JISCM@il

 DML: Digital Mathematics Library   retrodigitized Mathematics Journals and Monographs.

 Google scholar

 Google book search

A Cambridge Alumni Database

 History of Statistics


 Irwin Collier Economics in the Rear-view Mirror

Discussion: History of Economics

Discussion: math-history-list

Historia-Matematica (Inactive but archive survives)

SAO/NASA ADS Astronomy journals

Economists' Papers Project at Duke University

Iowa State University Statistical Collections Guide

Economists’ Papers