Thomas Bayes

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Signature of Thomas Bayes

Thomas Bayes [ beɪz ] (* around 1701 in London ; † April 7, 1761 in Tunbridge Wells ) was an English mathematicianstatistician , philosopher and Presbyterian pastor . According to him, which is Bayes' theorem named in the probability theory has great importance.


Bayes was the son of the Presbyterian clergyman Joshua Bayes (1671-1746) and studied theology and logic at the University of Edinburgh from 1719 (since he was not an Anglican, he was not allowed to study in Cambridge or Oxford). He was ordained in 1727 and then assisted his father in Hatton Garden , Holborn . In 1731 he became a Presbyterian pastor in Tunbridge Wells, southeast of London. In 1752 he retired. His grave is in Bunhill Fields Cemetery in North London. In 1969 it was restored with donations from statisticians around the world.

How he came to his preoccupation with probability theory is controversial, perhaps due to the reading of Abraham de Moivre , from whom he may have been privately tutored in London as a youth. In 1742 he became a Fellow of the Royal Society, possibly because of his pamphlet against George Berkeley in Defense of Analysis.


His most important work, to which he owes his fame today, was only published posthumously in 1764 in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society : 'An essay towards solving a problem in the doctrine of chances . This essay contains a special case of Bayes' theorem .

The following works are also attributed to him:

  • Divine Benevolence, or an Attempt to Prove That the Principal End of the Divine Providence and Government is the Happiness of His Creatures , published anonymously in 1731.
  • An Introduction to the Doctrine of Fluxions, and a Defense of the Mathematicians Against the Objections of the Author of the Analyst , a pamphlet against the philosophical critic Newton's Bishop George Berkeley, published anonymously in 1736.

See also


Web links

Commons : Thomas Bayes  album with pictures, videos and audio files

supporting documents

  1. ^ The Reverend Thomas Bayes, FRS - 1701? - 1761. Who is this gentleman? When and where was he born?
  2. Marc Dressler: Thomas Bayes and the pitfalls of statistics , in: Spectrum of Science SPECIAL 3.17: Beware of statistics! , 2017, ISSN 2193-4452, pp. 74ff