A Guide to R. A. Fisher



Sir Ronald Fisher F.R.S. (1890-1962) was one of the leading scientists of the 20th century; making major contributions to Statistics, Evolutionary Biology and Genetics. This website has information about him and his work.



perhaps the most original mathematical scientist of the [twentieth] century”

Bradley Efron Annals of Statistics (1976)


“Fisher was a genius who almost single-handedly created the foundations for modern statistical science ….”

Anders Hald A History of Mathematical Statistics (1998)


“Sir Ronald Fisher … could be regarded as Darwin’s greatest twentieth-century successor.”

Richard Dawkins River out of Eden (1995)


 “I occasionally meet geneticists who ask me whether it is true that the great geneticist R. A. Fisher was also an important statistician.”

 Leonard J. Savage Annals of Statistics (1976)


“[Kolmogorov] referred to The genetical theory of natural selection—‘das wundervolle Buch von R. A. Fisher.’ Two United States mathematicians sitting near to me were overheard to whisper ‘It can’t be the R. A. Fisher we know.’”

David Kendall Bulletin of the London Mathematical Society (1990).





Keywords and names: analysis of variance, conditional inference, design of experiments, estimation, eugenics, fundamental theorem of natural selection, likelihood, maximum likelihood, modern synthesis, population genetics, significance tests, t-distribution; z-distribution, Ronald Aylmer Fisher, Leonard Darwin, W. S. Gosset (“Student”), Harold Jeffreys, Jerzy Neyman, Karl Pearson, Sewall Wright.


Thanks chiefly to A. W. F. Edwards for providing most of the references, to J. W. “Mac” McDonald, Clive Dewey and Duncan Harris for additional suggestions and to Susan Woodburn for general help on Fisher matters and for commenting on the website.  



John Aldrich, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK. (home) First version May 2003. Most recent changes March 2018.









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