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Edwin Bidwell Wilson (April 25, 1879 – December 28, 1964) was an American mathematician and polymath.[1] He was the sole protégé of Yale's physicist Josiah Willard Gibbs and was mentor to MIT economist Paul Samuelson.[2]

Edwin Bidwell Wilson
Born(1879-04-25)April 25, 1879
DiedDecember 28, 1964(1964-12-28) (aged 85)
Alma materYale University
Harvard College
Scientific career
InstitutionsMassachusetts Institute of Technology
Doctoral advisorJosiah Willard Gibbs
Doctoral studentsJane Worcester



Wilson received his AB from Harvard College in 1899 and his PhD from Yale University in 1901, working under Gibbs.

E.B. Wilson compiled the textbook Vector Analysis, based on Gibbs' lectures, as Gibbs was at the time busy preparing his book on thermodynamics. [3]

Wilson gave a plenary address at the International Congress of Mathematicians in 1904 in Heidelberg[4] and in 1924 in Toronto.

In 1924 he was elected as a Fellow of the American Statistical Association.[5]

In Wilson (1927) he introduced the Wilson score interval, a binomial proportion confidence interval, and also derived the "plus four rule", which uses a pseudocount of two (add two to both your count of successes and failures, so four total) for estimating the probability of a Bernoulli variable with a confidence interval of two standard deviations in each direction (approximately 95% coverage).[6]


  • 1901: Vector Analysis
  • 1904: "The Foundations of Mathematics", Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society 11(2):74–93, a review of The Principles of Mathematics by Bertrand Russell
  • 1912: (with Gilbert N. Lewis) "The Space-time Manifold of Relativity. The Non-Euclidean Geometry of Mechanics and Electromagnetics", Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 48:387–507[7]
  • 1912: Advanced Calculus via Internet Archive
  • 1920: Aeronautics: A Class Text, John Wiley & Sons, link from Internet Archive
  • Wilson, E. B. (1927). "Probable inference, the law of succession, and statistical inference". Journal of the American Statistical Association. 22: 209–212. doi:10.1080/01621459.1927.10502953. JSTOR 2276774.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Obituary: Edwin B. Wilson". Physics Today. 18 (6): 88. June 1965. doi:10.1063/1.3047526.
  2. ^ How I Became an Economist by Paul A. Samuelson, 1970 Laureate in Economics, 5 September 2003
  3. ^ E.B. Wilson (1902) Vector Analysis: A Text-book for the Use of Students of Mathematics and Physics, based upon the lectures of Willard Gibbs
  4. ^ "Products in Additive Fields von E. B. Wilson aus New Haven". Verhandlungen des dritten Internationalen Mathematiker-Kongress, Heidelberg, 1904. Leipzig: Teubner. 1905.
  5. ^ List of ASA Fellows, retrieved 2016-07-16.
  6. ^ Moore, David; et al. Introduction to the Practice of Statistics. Macmillan Learning. p. 478. ISBN 9781319013387.
  7. ^ J. B. Shaw (1913) The Wilson-Lewis Algebra of Four-dimensional Space, Bulletin of the Quaternion Society via HathiTrust


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