BornAnthony William Fairbank Edwards
October 4, 1935 (age 80)
London (1935-10-04) InstitutionsStanford University
University of Pavia
Aberdeen University
University of Cambridge Alma materUniversity of Cambridge BooksCogwheels of the Mind, Foundations of mathemat, Pascal's arithmetical triangle, Likelihood, Annotated Readings in the Hist

InstitutionUniversity of Cambridge

A. W. F. Edwards

Anthony William Fairbank Edwards, FRS (born 1935) is a British statistician, geneticist, and evolutionary biologist. He was the son of the surgeon Harold C. Edwards, and brother of the medical geneticist John H. Edwards. He has sometimes been called "Fisher's Edwards" to distinguish him from his brother, because he was mentored by Ronald Fisher.

Edwards is a Life Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge and retired Professor of Biometry at the University of Cambridge, and holds both the ScD and LittD degrees. He has written several books and numerous scientific papers. He is best known for his pioneering work, with L.L. Cavalli-Sforza, on quantitative methods of phylogenetic analysis, and for strongly advocating Fisher's concept of likelihood as the proper basis for statistical and scientific inference. He has also written extensively on the history of genetics and statistics, including an analysis of whether Mendel's results were "too good", and also on purely mathematical subjects, such as Venn diagrams.

In a 2003 paper, Edwards criticised Richard Lewontin's argument in a 1972 paper that race is an invalid taxonomic construct, terming it Lewontin's fallacy.

After one postdoctoral research year he was invited by Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza to the University of Pavia, where, in 1961–1964, they initiated the statistical approach to the construction of evolutionary trees from genetical data, using the first modern computers. A year at Stanford University was followed by three years as Senior Lecturer in Statistics at the University of Aberdeen supervised by D. J. Finney and then two years as a Bye-Fellow in Science at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, during which he wrote his book Likelihood.

The remainder of Professor Edwards's career has been spent at Cambridge, ultimately as Professor of Biometry, during which he has published widely, including books on Venn diagrams, mathematical genetics, and Pascal's triangle.

Books

Edwards, A. W. F. 1972. Likelihood. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (expanded edition, 1992, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore). ISBN 0-8018-4443-6

Edwards, A. W. F. 1977. Foundations of Mathematical Genetics. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (2nd ed., 2000). ISBN 0-521-77544-2

Edwards, A. W. F. 1987. Pascal's Arithmetical Triangle: The Story of a Mathematical Idea. Charles Griffin, London (paperback edition, 2002, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore). ISBN 0-8018-6946-3

David, H. A.; Edwards, A. W. F. 2001. Annotated Readings in the History of Statistics. Springer, New York. ISBN 0-387-98844-0

Edwards, Anthony William Fairbank (2004). Cogwheels of the Mind: The Story of Venn Diagrams. Baltimore, Maryland, USA: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 65. ISBN 0-8018-7434-3.

Keynes, M.; Edwards, A. W. F.; Peel, R. eds. 2004. A Century of Mendelism in Human Genetics. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida. ISBN 0-415-32960-4

Franklin, A.; Edwards, A. W. F.; Fairbanks, D. J.; Hartl, D. L.; Seidenfeld, T. 2008. Ending the Mendel-Fisher Controversy. University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh. ISBN 0-8229-4319-0

Selected papers

Cavalli-Sforza, L. L.; Edwards, A. W. F. 1964. Analysis of human evolution. Genetics Today 3:923–933.

Edwards, A. W. F.; Cavalli-Sforza, L. L. 1964. Reconstruction of evolutionary trees. pp. 67–76 in Phenetic and Phylogenetic Classification, ed. Heywood, V. H. and McNeill, J. Systematics Association pub. no. 6, London.

Cavalli-Sforza, L. L.; Edwards, A. W. F. 1967. Phylogenetic analysis: models and estimation procedures. American Journal of Human Genetics 19:233–257.

Edwards, A. W. F. 1969. Statistical methods in scientific inference. Nature 222:1233–1237.

Edwards, A. W. F. 1974. The history of likelihood. International Statistical Review 42:9–15.

Edwards, A. W. F. 1986. Are Mendel's results really too close? Biological Reviews 61:295–312.

Edwards, A. W. F. 1996. The origin and early development of the method of minimum evolution for the reconstruction of phylogenetic trees. Systematic Biology 45:79–91.

Edwards, A. W. F. 2000. The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection. Genetics 154:1419–1426.

Edwards, A. W. F. 2003. Human genetic diversity: Lewontin's fallacy. BioEssays 25:798–801.

Awards and honours

Edwards was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2015.

Personal life

His elder brother John H. Edwards (1928–2007) was also a geneticist and also an FRS; their father, Harold C. Edwards, was a surgeon. He was awarded the Telesio-Galilei Academy Award in 2011 for Biology.

Edwards is also known for his involvement in gliding, particularly within the Cambridge University Gliding Club and for his writing on the subject in Sailplane and Gliding magazine as "The Armchair Pilot".