William Makeham

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William Matthew Makeham (11 September 1826 – 17 November 1891) was an English actuary and mathematician.

Makeham was responsible for proposing the age-independent Makeham term in the Gompertz–Makeham law of mortality that, together with the exponentially age-dependent Gompertz term, was one of the most effective theories to describe human mortality.[1]

Makeham was responsible for two important studies on human mortality:[2]

  • Makeham (1860). "On the Law of Mortality and the Construction of Annuity Tables". The Assurance Magazine, and Journal of the Institute of Actuaries. 8 (6): 301–310. doi:10.1017/S204616580000126X.
  • Makeham (1874). "On an Application of the Theory of the Composition of Decremental Forces". Journal of the Institute of Actuaries. 18: 317–322.

He had one wife, Hepzibah Reed, and seven children, William, Amy, Elizabeth, Thomas, Frederick, Emily, and George.


  1. ^ Dale, Andrew I. (1999). A History of Inverse Probability: From Thomas Bayes to Karl Pearson (2nd ed.). Springer. pp. 489 ff. ISBN 9780387988078.
  2. ^ Wolfram Mathworld, "Makeham Curve"