Edwards, A.W.F. 1935–

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Edwards, A.W.F. 1935–

(Anthony William Fairbank Edwards)

PERSONAL: Born October 4, 1935, in London, England; son of Harold C. (a surgeon) and Ida (a homemaker; maiden name, Phillips) Edwards; married August 9, 1958; wife's name Catharina (a homemaker); children: Ann Edwards Parry, Thomas, Charlotte Edwards Shipman. Ethnicity: "Welsh." Education: Cambridge University, M.A., Ph.D., 1960. Religion: Church of England. Hobbies and other interests: Gliding, skiing.

ADDRESSES: Home—Cambridge, England. Office—Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge University, Cambridge CB2 1TA, England. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy, research assistant, 1961–64; Stanford University, Stanford, CA, assistant professor, 1964–65; University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, Scotland, senior lecturer, 1965–68; Cambridge University, Cambridge, England, professor of biometry, 1968–2003, fellow of Gonville and Caius College, 1968–.

AWARDS, HONORS: Cambridge University, Sc.D., 1972, Litt.D., 2005.


Likelihood: An Account of the Statistical Concept of Likelihood and Its Application to Scientific Inference, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, England), 1972, expanded edition, Johns Hopkins University Press (Baltimore, MD), 1992.

The Foundations of Mathematical Genetics, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, England), 1977, 2nd edition, 2000.

Pascal's Arithmetical Triangle, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1987, published as Pascal's Arithmetical Triangle: The Story of a Mathematical Idea, Johns Hopkins University Press (Baltimore, MD), 2002.

(With H.A. David) Annotated Readings in the History of Statistics, Springer (New York, NY), 2000.

Cogwheels of the Mind: The Story of Venn Diagrams, Johns Hopkins University Press (Baltimore, MD), 2004.

(Editor, with Milo Keynes and Robert Peel) A Century of Mendelism in Human Genetics, CRC Press (Boca Raton, FL), 2004.

SIDELIGHTS: A.W.F. Edwards told CA: "My book Likelihood: An Account of the Statistical Concept of Likelihood and Its Application to Scientific Inference was born of a desire to tell the statistical world that, in its search for the philosophical basis of inference, it had been neglecting R.A. Fisher's concept of 'likelihood.' I was perhaps biased by having been a student of Fisher's, but almost more important was the fact that I was not trained as a statistician, but as a geneticist, and was therefore much more free-thinking through having been self-taught in statistics. My scientific work on reconstructing evolutionary trees had forced me to worry about questions of inference, and Likelihood was the result.

"The Foundations of Mathematical Genetics followed my genetical interests more closely, but it also reflects an idiosyncratic mathematical education. I wrote it partly to foreclose my own research in mathematical genetics because the field was being taken over by 'real' mathematicians using techniques with which I was not familiar. Both books reveal a latent interest in the history of science.

"In Pascal's Arithmetical Triangle that interest is paramount. Binomial coefficients abound in both statistics and mathematical genetics, and when I tried to learn about their history I found a gaping hole in the literature—no book on Pascal's triangle. Cambridge University libraries are famously rich in historical material, so I was able to settle down to write my book surrounded by original editions, and with Pascal's own Traité du triangle arithmétique not far away in the university library, which holds two copies. This was my last 'scissors and paste' book; after that came the computer!

"Cogwheels of the Mind: The Story of Venn Diagrams arose through an interest in John Venn, who, like R.A. Fisher, was a fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, as I myself am. I tell the story in the book itself.

"These four books have more in common than may seem at first sight. Though mathematical, the level never exceeds good high-school mathematics, while the range is quite a narrow part of discrete mathematics. All the books were written in Gonville and Caius College and reflect this through their subject matter and their reliance on first editions and manuscript material held in the library. An author is indeed fortunate when surrounded by the combined knowledge of the fellowship of an Oxbridge college and the incomparable libraries."



Booklist, April 15, 2004, Gilbert Taylor, review of Cogwheels of the Mind: The Story of Venn Diagrams.

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