The first statistician to consider a methodology for the design of experiments was Sir Ronald A. Fisher. He described how to test the hypothesis that a certain lady could distinguish by flavor alone whether the milk or the tea was first placed in the cup. While this sounds like a frivolous application, it allowed him to illustrate the most important ideas of experimental design.

Design of experiments was built on the foundation of the analysis of variance, a collection of models in which the observed variance is partitioned into components due to different factors which are estimated and/or tested.

Developments of the theory of linear models have encompassed and surpassed the cases that concerned early writers. Today, the theory rests on advanced topics in abstract algebra and combinatorics.

See also: planning statistical research -- survey sampling

back to statistics -- statistical theory