The statistical meat axe

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A note from Neville Ryant:

I was just reading Bradley Efron's original paper for the first time in years and couldn't help but chuckle at this gem in the acknowledgments:

I also with to thank the many friends who suggested names more colorful than Bootstrap, including Swiss Army Knife, Meat Axe, Swan-Dive, Jack-Rabbit, and my personal favorite, the Shotgun, which, to paraphrase Tukey "can blow the head off any problem if the statistician can stand the resulting mess."

Just imagining writing in a paper that "the meat-axed 95% confidence intervals are presented in Table…"

The paper in question is Bradley Efron, "The 1977 RIETZ lecture (Bootstrap Methods: Another Look at the Jackknife)", The annals of Statistics 7, no. 1 (1979): 1-26. And if you're not already familiar with the statistical bootstrap, the Wikipedia article is one place to start, or you could try one of the R bootstrapping tutorials.


  1. D.O. said,

    October 31, 2020 @ 12:10 pm

    Just in case someone happened not to know it already, statistical bootstrap is the generalization of the procedure known as jackknife.

  2. SusanC said,

    November 11, 2020 @ 1:27 pm

    If you think “meat axe” could never end being the standard name for an algorithm:

    The computer construction of matrix representations of fine groups over finite fields. Richard Parker and R.A. Wilson. Journal of symbolic computation, 1990.

  3. SusanC said,

    November 11, 2020 @ 1:29 pm

    Oops. Should be “finite groups”, not “fine groups”.

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