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Adrien-Marie Legendre

b. 18 September 1752 Paris
d. 9 January 1833 Paris


There were a number of different methods proposed to find the most likely value of a measured quantity. Legendre proposed the method of least squares. This appeared on pages 72-75 of the appendix to his work Nouvelles Méthodes pour la Detérmination des Orbites des Comètes published in 1805. The remainder of the appendix applies the technique to the measure of the degrees of the meridian.

Legendre read on 24 September 1811 a paper to the Academy with the title "Pour trouver le milieu le plus probable entre les résultats de différentes observations." This was printed in the Mémoires de la Classe des Sciences Mathématiques et Physiques de l'Institut (Vol. 11, 2nd part), pp. 149-154.

A translation of the Appendix into English by George Harvey was published in The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal Vol 7.  Pages 292-301. 

By 1820 we have Nouvelles méthodes pour la détermination de l'orbite des comètes. Second supplement. Paris.