R.A. Fisher's contributions to genetical statistics
Thompson EA.
Department of Statistics,
University of Washington,
Seattle 98195.
Biometrics. 1990 Dec;46(4):905-14.


R. A. Fisher (1890-1962) was a professor of genetics, and many of his statistical innovations found expression in the development of methodology in statistical genetics. However, whereas his contributions in mathematical statistics are easily identified, in population genetics he shares his preeminence with Sewall Wright (1889-1988) and J. B. S. Haldane (1892-1965). This paper traces some of Fisher's major contributions to the foundations of statistical genetics, and his interactions with Wright and with Haldane which contributed to the development of the subject. With modern technology, both statistical methodology and genetic data are changing. Nonetheless much of Fisher's work remains relevant, and may even serve as a foundation for future research in the statistical analysis of DNA data. For Fisher's work reflects his view of the role of statistics in scientific inference, expressed in 1949: There is no wide or urgent demand for people who will define methods of proof in set theory in the name of improving mathematical statistics. There is a widespread and urgent demand for mathematicians who understand that branch of mathematics known as theoretical statistics, but who are capable also of recognising situations in the real world to which such mathematics is applicable. In recognising features of the real world to which his models and analyses should be applicable, Fisher laid a lasting foundation for statistical inference in genetic analyses.
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