Edwin Thompson Jaynes


Edwin Thompson Jaynes

Infobox Scientist
name = E. T. Jaynes
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caption = Edwin Thompson Jaynes (1922-1998), photo taken circa 1960.
birth_date = July 5, 1922
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death_date = April 30, 1998
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field = Physicist
work_institutions = Washington University
alma_mater = Princeton University
doctoral_advisor = Eugene Wigner
doctoral_students = George Bretthorst
known_for = MaxEnt interpretation
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Edwin Thompson Jaynes (July 5, 1922 – April 30, 1998) was Wayman Crow Distinguished Professor of Physics at Washington University in St. Louis. He wrote extensively on statistical mechanics and on foundations of probability and statistical inference, initiating in 1957 the MaxEnt interpretation of thermodynamics [E. T. Jaynes (1957) [http://bayes.wustl.edu/etj/articles/theory.1.pdf Information theory and statistical mechanics] , "Physical Review" 106:620] [E. T. Jaynes (1957) [http://bayes.wustl.edu/etj/articles/theory.2.pdf Information theory and statistical mechanics II] , "Physical Review" 108:171] , as being a particular application of more general Bayesian/information theory techniques (although he argued this was already implicit in the works of Gibbs). He was one of the first to interpret probability theory as an extension of Aristotelian logic.

A particular focus of his work was the construction of logical principles for assigning prior probability distributions; see the principle of maximum entropy, the principle of transformation groups [E. T. Jaynes (1968) [http://bayes.wustl.edu/etj/articles/prior.pdf Prior Probabilities] , "IEEE Trans. on Systems Science and Cybernetics" SSC-4:227] [E. T. Jaynes (1973) [http://bayes.wustl.edu/etj/articles/well.pdf The Well-Posed Problem] , "Found. Phys." 3:477] and Laplace's principle of indifference.

His last book, "Probability Theory: The Logic of Science" gathers various threads of modern thinking about Bayesian probability and statistical inference, and contrasts the advantages of Bayesian techniques with the results of other approaches. It was published posthumously in 2003 by Cambridge University Press from an incomplete manuscript by editor Larry Bretthorst.

External links

* Edwin Thompson Jaynes. [http://www.cambridge.org/uk/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=0521592712 "Probability Theory: The Logic of Science".] Cambridge University Press, (2003). ISBN 0-521-59271-2.
* [http://omega.math.albany.edu:8008/JaynesBook.html Early (1994) version] (fragmentary) of "Probability Theory: The Logic of Science".
* A comprehensive [http://bayes.wustl.edu web page] on E. T. Jaynes's life and work.
* [http://library.wustl.edu/units/spec/exhibits/crow/jaynesbio.html ET Jaynes' obituary at Washington university]

Footnotes


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