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Bayes, Thomas

By: Jana Asher | Edited by: Paul Atkinson, Sara Delamont, Alexandru Cernat, Joseph W. Sakshaug & Richard A. Williams Published: 2020 | Length:   5 | DOI: |
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Reverend Thomas Bayes (1701/1702–1761) is the progenitor of Bayesian statistics, a subfield of statistics that revolutionized scientific inquiry across the physical and social sciences. However, he did not live to see his theory of “inverse probability”—the basis of Bayesian statistics—published. In fact, Bayes’s theorem specifically and Bayesian statistics more generally have endured scrutiny and dismissal from multiple well-known statisticians over the centuries; only in the latter part of the 20th century, as the computational power of computers has increased, has the versatility and utility of this branch of statistical inquiry been appreciated.

This entry begins with an exploration of the political and social background that prompted Bayes to develop his inverse probability theory. The development of inverse probability into the modern form of Bayes’s theorem by ...

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