Where did statistical software come from?
31 Jul 2017
Sarah C Gadd, John Tazare
A hugely important part of studying the epidemiology of diseases is being able to use statistics appropriately. Members of the Electronic Health Records group often write code in statistical programming languages in order to process and analyse data, but we rarely discuss how these programs came to exist. A number of developments in computer science were led by a desire to carry out statistical analyses – particularly least squares regression which, upon review of one of Charles Babbage’s computing machines in 1879 (completed and submitted by his son), the Royal Society identified as something that could be made more practical by computers. Below is a (non-exhaustive) summary of some of the highlights in the evolution of statistical computing. For those who might want to read more about the history of statistics, the ASA maintain a Pinterest board on the topic!
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