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

From: Duncan Murdoch <murdoch_at_stats.uwo.ca>
Date: Mon, 03 Mar 2008 09:25:07 -0500

On 3/3/2008 9:10 AM, Rogers, James A [PGRD Groton] wrote:

> 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.
> :-)

Just an example of Stigler's Law.

Duncan Murdoch

> 
> 
> --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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