William Sealey Gosset

William Sealey Gosset was born on June 13, 1876 in Canterbury, England where he was the oldest of five children. He died at the age of 61 in Beaconsfield, England on October 16, 1937. He attended the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich to b ecome an engineer before he was rejected because of poor eyesight. William Gosset was never employed as a statistician. In a world of quarrelsome statistics, but he got along with everyone. He was a very helpful, quiet, patient and loyal person.

He went to school at Winchester and was well educated before entering the New College in Oxford. Here he won a first degree in chemistry in 1899. After getting his degree as a chemist, he got a job at Guinness brewery in Dublin in 1899, where he did important work on statistics, but her was never hired at a statistician. It was his environment at Guinness’ that made him a statistician. The brewery was interested in how they could make the best beer .

In 1900, the Guinness Research Laboratory was opened, which was head by the most distinguished brewing chemist, Horace Brown. Horace Brown along with the other brews were wondering how to get the raw materials for brewing beer at the cheapest but getting the best. There were many factors that they had to take into account such as varieties of barley and hops, what conditions of dying, cultivation and maturing factors.

After a few years of research, given that they were given a free hand to explore the conditions of brewing. This gave Gosset a chance to work as a statistician. He was able to take the data from the different examples of brewing to help find out which way was the best. As the young brewers work together, it seemed natural for them to take the data to Gosset to solve the numerical problems.

Gosset, in 1903, could calculate standard errors. In 1904 he wrote on the brewing of beer. This report lead to Karl Pearson consulting Gosset. Gosset met Pearson in July of 1905 when they had long talk together. Pearson, in an hour and a half, m ade Gosset understand the theory of standard errors. Gosset went back to the brewery and practiced those method for the next year. The meeting was also successful in which Pearson got Gosset to take up the study of the law of error.

Gosset wrote paper in his spare time under the name "Student." His paper were on the probability of error of the mean and of the correlation coefficient for publication. Gosset even managed to run cooperative experiments with Hunter a nd Bennett at Ballinacurra, Buffin at Cambridge, and Beaven at Warminster in the testing of seeds against other seeds. Gosset also work with R.A. Fisher. The funny part is that Fisher did not get along Pearson, but Gosset studied under Pearson and also got along with Fisher.

To quickly recap William Gosset, he was born in 1876 and died in 1937. He did mathematical research for beer brewing, but had the problem working with only a small sample size. He work on the concept of probable errror of a mean. He also analysi sed an extended and broad range of problems such as the counting with a haemacytometer, probable error of a correlation coefficient, cereals, agronomy and the Lanarkshire milk experiment.

A very personal friend, McMullen, said this about Gosset, "he was a very kindly and tolerant and absolutely devoid malice. He rarely spoke about personal matters but when his opinion was well worth listening to and not in the least superficia l."

Web site. www-groups.dcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/~history/Mathematicians/Gosset.html