Re: [R] [OT] "normal" (as in "Guassian")

From: Rogers, James A [PGRD Groton] <James.A.Rogers_at_pfizer.com>
Date: Mon, 03 Mar 2008 09:10:02 -0500

As someone of partly French heritage, I would also ask how this distribution came to be called "Gaussian". It seems very unfair to de Moivre, who discovered the distribution at least half a century earlier. :-)

--Jim Rogers

On Mar 2, 2008, at 7:33 AM, (Ted Harding) wrote:

> Hi Folks,
> Apologies to anyone who'd prefer not to see this query
> on this list; but I'm asking because it is probably the
> forum where I'm most likely to get a good answer!
>
> I'm interested in the provenance of the name "normal
> distribution" (for what I'd really prefer to call the
> "Gaussian" distribution).
>
> According to Wikipedia, "The name "normal distribution"
> was coined independently by Charles S. Peirce, Francis
> Galton and Wilhelm Lexis around 1875."
>
> So be it, if that was the case -- but I would like to
> know why they chose the name "normal": what did they
> intend to convey?
>
> As background: I'm reflecting a bit on the usage in
> statistics of "everyday language" as techincal terms,
> as in "significantly different". This, for instance,
> is likely to be misunderstood by the general publidc
> when they encounter statements in the media.
>
> Likewise, "normally distributed" would probably be
> interpreted as "distributed in the way one would
> normally expect" or, perhaps, "there was nothing
> unusual about the distribution."
>
> Comments welcome!
> With thanks,
> Ted.
>



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