Person: Wishart, John
John Wishart made important contributions to Statistics.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- In 1924, after a recommendation from Whittaker, Wishart was offered a post in University College, London, as assistant to Pearson.
- Pearson had a project for Wishart to work on and, given that Whittaker had set up his mathematical laboratory in Edinburgh, it was clear why Whittaker's advice on a possible assistant had been sought.
- Wishart learned a great deal of statistics during his three years with Pearson.
- After a few months as a Mathematical Demonstrator at Imperial College, Wishart accepted an offer from R A Fisher to be his statistical assistant at Rothamsted.
- Wishart was appointed to the Readership in the Faculty of Agriculture.
- A laboratory was set up by Wishart at Cambridge for his postgraduate students.
- There were two aspects to Wishart's teaching at Cambridge since he taught both mathematics students and agriculture students.
- The arrangement did not suit other academics at Cambridge, however, and Wishart had to fight many academic battles.
- The problem that Wishart's position caused at Cambridge was that he was too high powered a statistician for those in Agriculture but the mathematicians were also unhappy to send their students to the Faculty of Agriculture for statistics courses, and they would have much preferred to have statistics completely within Mathematics.
- As it was, Wishart worked in army Intelligence from 1940 to 1942 and then on statistical work for the Admiralty from 1942 to 1946.
- Wishart became Head of the Statistical Laboratory in 1953.
- Some of Wishart's most important publications were in the 1928-32 period before he became so involved with teaching at Cambridge.
- In 1928 he derived the generalised product-moment distribution which is now named the Wishart distribution.
- As well as further papers on the Wishart distribution, he also studied properties of the distribution of the multiple correlation coefficient which Fisher had considered earlier.
- Wishart was also much involved with the work of the Royal Statistical Society.
- One other service that Wishart performed for statistics was his editorial work for Biometrika.
- Wishart died in a bathing accident in Acapulco, Mexico, which he was visiting as a representative of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation to arrange setting up a research centre to apply statistical techniques in agricultural research.
Born 28 November 1898, Montrose, Scotland. Died 14 July 1956, Acapulco, Mexico.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Origin Scotland, Statistics
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive