Study Guide

The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America - Part 3, Chapter 8 The Law of Errors, Section 1 Summary & Analysis

Louis Menand
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Part 3, Chapter 8 The Law of Errors, Section 1 Summary

The law of errors was based on a combination of the theory of probability and statistics. They were originally combined in 1800 through the science of Astronomy. The use of the law of errors will lead to findings that have a bell shape. This means that since there is no unknown variable, the measurement is likely to be between the two extremes.

This led to the method of least squares, which is the equation that uses the mathematical computation of the mean of the discrepancies to find the true location of a fixed object. However, this equation became much more tedious if the object was not fixed in one location.

Carl Friedrich Gauss, who created the method, solved this problem in 1795. Adrien Marie Legendre published the method in 1805, but Pierre Simon Laplace...

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