Monday, January 28, 2013

Befriend a Book

Books are pretty special to most academics - and to many, many other readers as well. Some of us are especially interested in old books whose very publication tells the story of the history and development of our discipline.

For example, I'm pleased to own copies of Aitken (1942), Aitken (1949), and (courtesy of a former grad. student) Turnbull and Aitken (1932). Some years ago, in Australia, I had some luck at a garage sale and picked up terrific copies of Karl Pearson's Early Statistical Papers (edited by his son, Egon Pearson, in 1948), The Selected Papers of E. S. Pearson, and Contributions to Mathematical Statistics. The latter volume comprises a large number of R. A. Fisher's papers, edited by W. A. Shewhart in 1950.

In 2009, the Royal Statistical Society began a program that they called "Befriend a Book". The objective is to raise funds to assist in the conservation of important books in the historical collection held by the Society.

The latest (February, 2013) issue of the RSS Newsletter contains an item that describes the progress that's being made with "Befriend a Book". For example, the first book to be restored was a copy of de Moivre's The Doctrine of Chances (1838). There are also some interesting pictures of old books. (At least, I found them to be interesting!)


Aitken, A. C., 1942.  Determinants and Matrices, 2nd. ed.. Oliver and Boyd, Edinburgh.

Aitken, A. C., 1949, Statistical Mathematics, 6th. ed., Oliver and Boyd, Edinburgh.

Turnbull, H. W. & A. C. Aitken, 1932, An Introduction to the Theory of Canonical Matrices, Blackie & Son, London. 

© 2013, David E. Giles

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