# Ronald Fisher

Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher FRS (February 17, 1890 – July 29, 1962) was an English statistician, evolutionary biologist, eugenicist, and geneticist. Among other things, Fisher is well known for his contributions to statistics by creating ANOVA (analysis of variance), Fisher's exact test and Fisher's equation. Anders Hald called him "a genius who almost single-handedly created the foundations for modern statistical science", while Richard Dawkins named him "the greatest biologist since Darwin". Fisher was born in East Finchley in London, England, to George and Katie Fisher. His father was a successful fine arts dealer at one time. He had a happy childhood, being doted on by three older sisters, an older brother, and his mother, but she died when he was 14. His father lost his business in several ill-considered transactions only 18 months later, according to the biography by Fisher's daughter, Joan. Joan Fisher's biography is the main source of information on her father's early life; it was published under her married name and with the statistical advice of her husband, George E. P. Box. Although Ronald Fisher had quite poor eyesight, he was a precocious student, winning the Neeld Medal (a competitive essay in mathematics) at Harrow School at the age of 16. Because of his poor eyesight, he was tutored in mathematics without the aid of paper and pen, which developed his ability to visualize problems in geometrical terms, without contributing to his interest in writing proper derivations of mathematical solutions, especially proofs. He amazed his peers with his ability to conjecture mathematical solutions withou

justifying his conclusions by showing intermediate steps. He also developed a strong interest in biology, and especially evolutionary biology. In 1909, he won a scholarship to the Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. There he formed many friendships and became enthralled with the heady intellectual atmosphere. At Cambridge, Fisher learned of the newly rediscovered theory of Mendelian genetics. He saw biometry and its growing corpus of statistical methods as a potential way to reconcile the discontinuous nature of Mendelian inheritance with continuous variation and gradual evolution. However, his foremost concern was eugenics, which he saw as a pressing social as well as scientific issue that encompassed both genetics and statistics. In 1911, Fisher was involved in the forming of the University of Cambridge Eugenics Society with John Maynard Keynes, R.C. Punnett, and Horace Darwin (the son of Charles Darwin). This group was active, and it held monthly meetings, often featuring addresses by leaders of mainstream eugenics organizations, such as the Eugenics Education Society of London, founded by Charles Darwin's half-cousin, Francis Galton in 1909. Close to Fisher's graduation in 1912, his tutor told his student that—despite his enormous aptitude for scientific work and his mathematical potential—his disinclination to show calculations or to prove propositions rendered him unsuited for a career in applied mathematics, which required greater fortitude. His tutor gave him a "lukewarm" recommendation, stating that if Fisher "had stuck to the ropes he would have made a first-class mathematician, but he would not.