A History of Inverse Probability

Part of the series Sources and Studies in the History of Mathematics and Physical Sciences pp 17-30

Thomas Bayes: A biographical sketch

  • Andrew I. DaleAffiliated withDepartment of Mathematical Statistics, University of Natal

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Most authors of papers or articles devoted to biographical comments on Thomas Bayes preface their remarks with an Apologia for the paucity of pertinent particulars. In 1860 we find de Morgan publishing a request in Notes and Queries for more information on Bayes, listing, in no more than a few paragraphs, all that he knows. In 1974 Maistrov, in what was probably to that date the most complete and authoritative1 history of probability theory since Todhunter’s classic of 1865, bemoaned the fact that

biographical data concerning Bayes is scarce and often misleading... Even in the “Great Soviet Encyclopedia” (BSE) there is no mention of his birthdate and the date of his death is given incorrectly as 1763. [pp. 87–88]