Thorvald N. Thiele

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Thorvald N. Thiele

Thorvald Nicolai Thiele (24 December 1838 – 26 September 1910) was a Danish astronomer, actuary and mathematician, most notable for his work in statistics, interpolation and the three-body problem. He was the first to propose a mathematical theory of Brownian motion.[citation needed] Thiele introduced the cumulants and (in Danish) the likelihood function. Thiele was named by Ronald Fisher, in his (short) list of the greatest statisticians of all time.[1]

In the early 1900s he also developed and proposed a generalisation of approval voting to multiple winner elections called Sequential proportional approval voting,[2] which was briefly used for party lists in Sweden when proportional representation was introduced in 1909.

Thiele also was a founder and Mathematical Director of the Hafnia Insurance Company and led the founding of the Danish Society of Actuaries. It was through his insurance work that he came into contact with fellow mathematician Jørgen Pedersen Gram.

Thiele was the father of Holger Thiele.

Asteroids 843 Nicolaia (found by his son) and 1586 Thiele are named in his honour.

See also[edit]


  1. ^
    • Neyman, J. [1956]: ‘Note on an Article by Sir Ronald Fisher,’ Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series B (Methodological), 18, pp. 288–94.
  2. ^


  • Steffen L. Lauritzen (2002). Thiele: Pioneer in Statistics. Oxford University Press. p. 288. ISBN 978-0-19-850972-1. 
    • 1. Introduction to Thiele, S. L. Lauritzen
    • 2. On the application of the method of least squares to some cases, in which a combination of certain types of inhomogeneous random sources of errors gives these a 'systematic' character, T. N. Thiele
    • 3. Time series analysis in 1880: a discussion of contributions made by T. N. Thiele, S. L. Lauritzen
    • 4. The general theory of observations: calculus of probability and the method of least squares, T. N. Thiele
    • 5. T. N. Thiele's contributions to statistics, A. Hald
    • 6. On the halfinvariants in the theory of observations, T. N. Thiele
    • 7. The early history of cumulants and the Gram–Charlier series, A. Hald
    • 8. Epilogue, S. L. Lauritzen

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