Median - History

History

The idea of the median originated in Edward Wright's book on navigation (Certaine Errors in Navigation) in 1599 in a section concerning the determination of location with a compass. Wright felt that this value was the most likely to be the correct value in a series of observations.

In 1757, Roger Joseph Boscovich developed a regression method based on the L1 norm and therefore implicitly on the median.

The distribution of both the sample mean and the sample median were determined by Laplace in the early 1800s.

Antoine Augustin Cournot in 1843 was the first to use the term median (valeur m├ędiane) for the value that divides a probability distribution into two equal halves. Gustav Theodor Fechner used the median (Centralwerth) in sociological and psychological phenomena. It had earlier been used only in astronomy and related fields. Gustav Fechner popularized the median into the formal analysis of data, although it had been used previously by Laplace.

Francis Galton used the English term median in 1881, having earlier used the terms middle-most value in 1869 and the medium in 1880.

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