With these pages I plan to make available a broad range of material related to the history of probability and statistics. This will include principally a selection of original sources in English translation. The reader may rightly assume, unless another person should be credited, that I am responsible for any errors of mistranslation or transcription.

I have endeavored to ensure that texts have been reproduced accurately. The translations have not been rendered into polished English because they are meant to reflect as best as I am capable the sense and language of the authors. However, I believe the English to be readable. Be aware that the sources available are sometimes very difficult to read so that errors can arise simply because characters of text cannot be discerned clearly.

Whenever possible, the original notation of the authors has been retained. However, I have at times relied on the collected works of an individual. It should be noted that editors of collected works have sometimes changed the notation from that which was used in the first publication. It has been necessary, but only rarely, to actually alter notation and this has occurred chiefly when the character used is not available.

These documents may be freely copied for use by educators and educational institutions as long as proper credit is given and they remain unaltered. This site may neither be mirrored nor these files reposted. Comments and corrections are welcome.

Note that the Todhunter's framework has been adopted through Laplace. Beyond that time, what appears is dictated by my interests.

Since several research libraries have been digitized, it is possible to locate scanned images of journals and books. Links will be provided to them under two particular circumstances: (1) If the paper or text is in English. (2) If the work is in another language and I have no interest other than citing it.

Richard J. Pulskamp.

pulskamp"at"xavier.edu

It is likely that these pages will be in a permanent state of construction.

Several histories now in the public domain are these:- Charles Gourand, Histoire du Calcul des Probabilités, 1848.
- Isaac Todhunter, A History of the Mathematical Theory of Probability, 1865
- August Meitzen, History, theory, and technique of Statistics, 1891.
- John Koren, The History of Statistics, 1913.

- Prehistory of Probability & Statistics (In preparation.)
- The Problem of Points
- Blaise Pascal and Pierre Fermat
- Christiaan Huygens
- Combinations
- Mortality & Life Insurance
- Miscellaneous Investigations to 1700
- Pierre de Montmort
- Abraham de Moivre
- The Bernoulli
Family: Jakob
Bernoulli, Johann
I Bernoulli, Nicolas
I Bernoulli, Daniel
Bernoulli & Johann
III Bernoulli

Nikolaus I Bernoulli is the author of the dissertation*De usu artis conjectandi in jure* - Miscellaneous Investigations between 1700 and 1750
- Leonhard Euler wrote a number of papers on probability and what we now call statistics. Here are found translations of the majority of his works. I have also endeavored to give a fairly complete collection of ancillary papers up to the time of Laplace. Several gaps are yet evident.
- Jean D'Alembert is often maligned for his errors in discussing probability. Here I have placed translations of all of his writings on probability. He also penned a number of memoirs of a statistical nature on the subject of inoculation for the smallpox. These remain to be done.
- Thomas Bayes
- Joseph Lagrange
- Miscellaneous Investigations from 1750 to 1780
- Marquis de Condorcet
- Jean Trembley
- Miscellaneous Investigations from 1780 to 1800
- Laplace
(Updated through TAP.
)

This period is marked especially by the efforts devoted to the theory of errors and the method of least squares. Manfield Merriman in his A List of writings relating to the Method of Least Squares has supplied a list of 408 titles related to it carried from 1722 to 1874. Leon Harter in "The Method of Least Squares and some Alternatives: Part I," International Statistical Review Vol. 42, No. 2 (1974) pp. 147-174 extended this to 1884.

The thirteen "proofs" of the Method of Least Squares: These are given in the order provided by Merriman.

1801 - 1830 |

This period is marked by
the publication of Laplace's
Théorie Analytique des
Probabilités
in 1812 and followed shortly thereafter with the Essai
Philosophique sur les probabilités in
1814.

- Adrien-Marie
Legendre who
first published in 1805 on the method of
least squares.
- Carl Gauss
who contributed to the
science of statistics through his work on the method of least squares.
His works in this area span 1809 to 1828. Although Legendre was the first to publish, he claimed to have used the
procedure twelve years before Legendre published.
- George Bessel who, during the period 1810 to 1845, contributed to the theory of errors.
- Simon Denis
Poisson is known,
of course, for the Poisson Distribution, the Law of Large Numbers and his simplification of Laplace.
He also investigated the optimal size of juries and the number of
jurors required to convict. His work spans 1824 to 1837.
- Joseph Fourier.
- Miscellaneous Investigations from 1801 to 1830

See also Cauchy below for early papers.

1831 - 1850 |

- Augustin-Louis
Cauchy
investigated fitting equations to data and minimizing errors as early as 1814.
We
include here a series of papers on determining the of planets and
asteroids.orbits.

- Irénée-Jules
Bienaymé
contributed to a number of areas. He was a staunch defender of
Laplace's method of least squares against the method of interpolation
of Cauchy. He also denied the existence of Poisson's Law of Large
Numbers.
- Eugene Catalan
- Miscellaneous
Investigations from 1831 to 1850
- The Russian Probabilists. These include here Mikhail Ostrogradsky, Viktor Buniakovsky, Pafnuti Chebyshev, André Markov and Aleksandr Lyapunov.

1851 - 1860 |