International Statistical Review

The Development of Statistical Computing at Rothamsted

Journal Article


An account is given of the development of statistical computing at Rothamsted. It is concerned mainly with the period from 1954 (when the first electronic computer was delivered) until 1985 (when this article was written). Initially, many specialised programs were written, but it was soon realised that, for efficiency, general‐purpose programs—each unifying many statistical techniques—were required. The development of these programs was gradual and required corresponding developments in statistical theory. Now, the bulk of statistical work, not only for Rothamsted but also for the Agricultural and Food Research Service (AFRS) as a whole, is covered by a few programs, notably Genstat that has an international market. Further developments of these programs are required to make them more accessible to scientists who are not well versed in statistics and to take advantage of technological advances.

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