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Statistical ThoughtA Perspective and History$
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Shoutir Kishore Chatterjee

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780198525318

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198525318.001.0001

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PREHISTORY, BEGINNING OF HISTORY, AND THE TODDLING PERIOD

PREHISTORY, BEGINNING OF HISTORY, AND THE TODDLING PERIOD

Chapter:
(p.141) 5 PREHISTORY, BEGINNING OF HISTORY, AND THE TODDLING PERIOD
Source:
Statistical Thought
Author(s):

Shoutir Kishore Chatterjee

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198525318.003.0005

Although probabilistic reasoning was implicit in man’s behaviour in uncertain situations even in primitive times, and can be traced in some ancient texts and medieval writings, probability as a branch of knowledge began with the studies of games of chance by Cardano (16th century) and Pascal, Fermat, and Huygens (middle of the 17th century). Around the latter time, studies of empirical frequencies of births, deaths, and survivals on the basis of the London Bills of Mortality were made by John Graunt, and Huygens, while reviewing Graunt’s work, pointed out its possible probabilistic interpretation. James Bernoulli derived his limit theorem while trying to demonstrate the connection mathematically. Thus, by the early 18th century, the standard probabilistic concepts and operations, and the interpretations of probability both as degree of belief and long-term relative frequency, became well-established.

Keywords:   games of chance, Cardano, Pascal, Fermat, Huygens, Bills of Mortality, Graunt, James Bernoulli

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