Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher, (17 February 1890 - 29 July 1962) was an extraordinarily talented evolutionary biologist, geneticist and statistician. He has been described by Richard Dawkins as "The greatest of Darwinâ€™s successors," and the historian of statistics Anders Hald said "Fisher was a genius who almost single-handedly created the foundations for modern statistical science."

Fisher invented the techniques of maximum likelihood and analysis of variance, was a pioneer in the design of experiments, and originated the concepts of sufficiency, ancillarity, and Fisher information, making him a major figure in 20th century statistics. His article "On a distribution yielding the error functions of several well known statistics" presented Karl Pearson's chi-squared and Student's t in the same framework as the normal distribution and his own analysis of variance distribution z. Fisher's book Statistical methods for research workers showed how to use these distributions. His work on the theory of population genetics also made him one of the three great figures of that field, together with Sewall Wright and J. B. S. Haldane, and as such one of the founders of the neodarwinian modern synthesis. See also Fisher's linear discriminator.

He was born in East Finchley, London (his twin died in infancy) and obtained a B.A. degree in mathematics, from Cambridge University in 1912. In 1911, he was involved in the formation of the Cambridge University Eugenics Society. His studies of errors in astronomical calculations, together with his interests in genetics and natural selection, led to involvement in statistics.

From 1919 he worked at Rothamsted Experimental Station making contributions in statistics and genetics. In 1933 he became a professor of eugenics at University College London moving in 1943 to the Balfour chair of genetics at Cambridge.

He received various awards for his work and was made a Knight Bachelor by Queen Elizabeth II in 1952. He had a long running feud with Karl Pearson (he declined a post at the University of London), and later with Pearson's son E.S. Pearson. After retiring from Cambridge he spent some time as a research fellow at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Adelaide, Australia where he died in 1962.

- Statistical Methods for Research Workers (1925)
- The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection (1930)
- The Design of Experiments (1935)
- Statistical Tables for Biological, Agricultural and Medical Research (1938, coauthor:Frank Yates)
- The Theory of Inbreeding (1949)
- Contributions to Mathematical Statistics (1950)
- Statistical Methods and Statistical Inference (1956)
- RA Fisher Collected Papers
- Royal Society Biography
- Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher by J J O'Connor and E F Robertson, University of St Andrews web site.
- R A Fisher - the Life of a Scientist by Joan Box, 1978.
- Ronald Aylmer Fisher (1890-1962) with some nice photos.
- Obituary from the Times
- Development of the Theory of Experimental Design by Sir R.A Fisher, Jan 1947 - Proceedings of the International Statistical Conferences, 1947.
- Recent Progress in Experimental Design by R.A. Fisher, Jan 1945
- The Place of the Design of Experiments in the Logic of Scientific Inference by Sir Ronald A. Fisher, Jan 1962
- Guinness, Gosset, Fisher, and Small Samples by Joan Fisher Box, Feb 1987 - "The environment in which W. S. Gosset (Student) worked as a brewer at Guinness' Brewery at the turn of the century is described fully enough to show how it forced him to confront problems of small sample statistics, using the techniques he picked up from Karl Pearson. R. A. Fisher's interest in human genetics prompted biometrical applications of his mathematical training even as an undergraduate. As soon as he considered Student's work, he perceived its importance and began to extend its applications"
- Student by RA Fisher, Jan 1939
- Use of Experimental Design in Analytical Studies by Lloyd Provost, May 2001 - Presentation slides that: "discuss extending R. A. Fisher's principles of experimental design to the environment of an analytic study. The appropriate use of experimental patterns, blocking (or planned grouping), randomization, and replication will be illustrated with examples of analytic studies. The analysis of data from analytic studies will also be presented."

*His book, the Design of Experiments was the first book
explicitly to be devoted to this subject, and amplified and extended the
somewhat cursory and elementary exposition in Statistical methods.*

from Royal Society Bio

Online Resources

This biography is an edited version of RA Fisher on the Wikipedia site. By John Hunter Sep 2004.