Who is WhoTopMeetings in 2002Biometrika centenary

Biometrika centenary

In November 1900 the biologist W.F.R.Weldon wrote to Karl Pearson (K.P.) proposing a new journal. K.P. immediately suggested the name Biometrika, the field to be called biometrics, incidentally not the first use of that word. A support fund was raised to cover the costs until the journal became self-supporting and in October 1901, less than a year after Weldon's letter, the first issue appeared. It was edited initially by Weldon and K.P., Weldon dealing with biological aspects and, with his vast energy, K.P. doing most of the detailed work. He also wrote 90 papers, few of them short, in the journal in the period up to 1914 alone. He was still correcting proof as Editor a few weeks before his death at age 80 in 1936.

One can distinguish three broad periods in the evolution of Biometrika. The first was up to 1914; important developments in statistical methods were reported but the great majority of the space was taken up with detailed analyses of empirical data from a remarkably wide range of subject areas. The period from the end of the Great War up to K.P.'s death was by and large less interesting for reasons that are probably clear. With K.P.'s son Egon becoming editor, the journal changed to being a mainstream journal of statistical theory and method, evolving as the subject evolved but aiming always to keep some balance between theoretical interest and actual or potential application.

To celebrate the Centenary the current editor, D.M.Titterington, has commissioned six special papers reviewing the contribution of the journal to some of the main areas of statistics. These papers, together with a brief historical introduction, are included in the first part of the 2001 volume. The authors are R.A.Bailey & A.C.Atkinson, A.C.Davison, P.Hall, D.Oakes, T.M.F.Smith and H.Tong. These papers plus reprints of 10 important early papers will be published later by Oxford University Press as a separate book.

David Cox
Chairman of Biometrika Trustees

Photo of Karl Pearson
Karl Pearson

Who is WhoTopMeetings in 2002Biometrika centenary