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The “Gaussian” Distribution

Posted by asymptotics under

Mathematics
[3] Comments
While reading through the achievements of the Kerala school of mathematics I came across the Madhava-Leibniz formula for computing the value of pi/4. Though the formula was discovered by Madhava its popularly known as Leibniz formula. This is an instance of Stiglers Law, which is the tendency of NOT attributing a discovery to its original discoverer.

Popular instances of the law include the United States of America, Halleys comet, Planck’s constant and, to my surprise, Gaussian distribution! I came to know that the Gaussian distribution was not first proposed by Gauss, a very late discovery for a communication engineer. The distribution was first proposed by de Moivre of the de Moivre-Laplace formula to approximate binomial distributions for large n. Now by recursive application of Stiglers Law can we say that De Moivre also was not the first proposer of the normal distribution ?

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November 14, 2008 at 5:24 pm

Very interesting!

November 17, 2008 at 7:18 am

Hi,

Can’t you apply Stigler’s law to itself?

Thanks for this information…

-Aparna

June 30, 2009 at 11:08 am

@Aparna:

The wiki article derives it that way 😉