Arthur Black (mathematician)

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Arthur Black (1851–1893) was an English mathematician.


He was the eldest son of David Black of Brighton, a solicitor and coroner, and brother to Clementina Black, the social reformer and author, and Constance Garnett.[1] He became a student of William Clifford at University College London.[2] He was in a business partnership with the lawyer Robert Singleton Garnett, elder brother to Edward Garnett.[3][4] In 1893 he killed his wife, son and himself.[5] His daughter Gertrude Speedwell Black (1887–1963) survived, and married H. J. Massingham.[6][7]

Black's work remained unpublished at the time of his suicide. Micaiah John Muller Hill saw to the publication of a paper on a general Gaussian integral.[8] Notebooks survive, including attempts to formulate a quantitative theory of evolution; they also contain a derivation of the chi-squared distribution.[2][9] A long manuscript, Algebra of Animal Evolution, was sent to Karl Pearson, who then transmitted it to Francis Galton; it is now lost.[9] Pearson and Walter Frank Raphael Weldon thought highly of the work, but Galton had reservations.[10]


  • Donald A. MacKenzie, Studies in the History of Probability and Statistics. XXXVI Arthur Black: A Forgotten Pioneer of Mathematical Statistics, Biometrika Vol. 64, No. 3 (Dec., 1977), pp. 613–616. Published by: Biometrika Trust. Stable URL:


  1. ^ MacKenzie, p. 613.
  2. ^ a b, Black (Arthur) Notebooks.
  3. ^ Roger W. Peattie (1 November 2010). Selected Letters of William Michael Rossetti. Penn State Press. p. 655 note 1. ISBN 978-0-271-04424-8. Retrieved 1 April 2013. 
  4. ^ Joseph Conrad (20 December 2007). The Collected Letters of Joseph Conrad. Cambridge University Press. p. xxxvii. ISBN 978-0-521-88189-0. Retrieved 1 April 2013. 
  5. ^ David Trotter (2001). Paranoid modernism. Oxford University Press. p. 5. ISBN 978-0-19-818755-4. Retrieved 1 April 2013. 
  6. ^ D. H. Lawrence (28 November 2002). The Letters of D. H. Lawrence. Cambridge University Press. p. 121. ISBN 978-0-521-00700-9. Retrieved 1 April 2013. 
  7. ^ Chase, Malcolm. "Massingham, (Harold) John". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/34922.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  8. ^ MacKenzie, p. 614.
  9. ^ a b Michael Cowles (2001). Statistics in Psychology: An Historical Perspective. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Incorporated. p. 105 note 1. ISBN 978-0-8058-3509-0. Retrieved 1 April 2013. 
  10. ^ Theodore M. Poeter (1986). The Rise of Statistical Thinking: 1820-1900. Princeton University Press. pp. 299–300. ISBN 978-0-691-02409-7. Retrieved 1 April 2013.