Person: De Forest, Erastus Lyman
Erastus De Forest was an American mathematician and statistician and an early user of Monte Carlo methods.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- De Forest remained at Yale to study engineering and at this time was a fellow student with J Willard Gibbs who entered Yale in the year that De Forest was awarded his B.A. In 1856 De Forest was awarded a Ph.B. by Yale and then in February of the following year he set off with his aunt for New York to begin a journey with her to Havana.
- However, before the ship was due to depart De Forest vanished leaving his luggage.
- It was more than two years after he vanished that John De Forest received a letter from his son, posted in Australia.
- De Forest, depressed with his privileged life, had travelled to California where he had got a job at a mine.
- From his return to Connecticut in 1865 he devoted himself to the study of mathematics.
- The remarkable contributions of De Forest to statistics had little or no influence on the subject since those who later developed similar ideas were totally unaware of his contributions.
- De Forest was not associated with any institution so lacked the visibility that such a position would have meant.
- His contributions were recognised, however, by Pearson whose attention was drawn to De Forest's papers.
- Pearson acknowledged De Forest's priority in deriving the chi square distribution.
- Stigler uses information on De Forest available to him from a well researched but unpublished work on De Forest by H H Wolfenden.
- Shortly before he died he founded the Erastus L De Forest Professorship of Mathematics at Yale.
Born 27 June 1834, Watertown, Connecticut, USA. Died 6 June 1888, Watertown, Connecticut, USA.
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Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive