Skip to content

Cornish, Edmund Alfred (1909-1973)
Lectures on Mathematical Statistics, 1945-1946

MSS 0081

Biographical Note

E.A. Cornish obtained a degree in Agricultural Biochemistry from the University of Melbourne in 1931 and was appointed Junior Agrostologist at the Waite Agricultural Research Institute the following year.  He worked with the statistician R.A. (Sir Ronald) Fisher at University College London for a year between 1937 and 1938 and co-authored with him an important paper on 'Moments and cumulants in the specification of distributions' published in 1937.  On his return to Adelaide he was appointed Statistician at WARI and completed a masters degree in Mathematics at the University of Adelaide (M.Sc 1940) before taking up in 1941 a position in the C.S.I.R.O. Biometrics section (subsequently the separate Division of Mathematical Statistics), where he introduced and developed mathematics and statistics as an integral part of experimental design and data analysis in the organisation's scientific and industrial research.

Cornish was active also in encouraging the establishment of a Chair of Mathematical Statistics at the University of Adelaide, and was a part-time Lecturer in Mathematical Statistics at the University from 1945 - his lectures in that first year were the first given on the topic and were much influenced by his work with Fisher (whom he invited to Adelaide in 1952).  He was appointed foundation Professor of Mathematical Statistics in 1960, a position he held concurrently with that of head of the Division of Mathematical Statistics until the end of 1964, when he was succeeded by Alan James.

A more detailed account of Cornish's career is given in the Australian Academy of Science memoir by P.A.P. Moran.

These copies of Cornish's original lecture notes were made at his request for Alan James, his successor to the Chair at Adelaide, who as a post-graduate student was asked to deliver them in 1946, and include some additional sections by James.  They were donated to the Library on 28 January 2003 by Professor James.


Contents Listing

1. Notes for course of lectures on Statistical Methods given by E.A. Cornish at the University of Adelaide as part of 2nd year Mathematics, 1945.  83 p. typescript.
[This set is a typescript duplicate of the original lectures, prepared in 1946 for Alan James (then a post-graduate student; subsequently Professor of Statistics) who presented the lectures that year, with some additional sections by James on regression and analysis of variance]

Rare Books & Special Collections

The University of Adelaide
Rare Books & Special Collections
Level 1, Barr Smith Library
South Australia 5005


Phone: +61 8 8313 5224