E. T. Jaynes
Edwin Thompson Jaynes (1922–1998), photo taken circa 1960.
|Died||30 April 1998 (aged 75)|
|Alma mater||Princeton University|
|Known for||Maximum entropy thermodynamics|
|Thesis||An electronic theory of ferroelectricity (1948)|
|Doctoral advisor||Eugene Wigner|
Edwin Thompson Jaynes (July 5, 1922 – April 30, 1998) was the 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 maximum entropy interpretation of thermodynamics as being a particular application of more general Bayesian/information theory techniques (although he argued this was already implicit in the works of Josiah Willard Gibbs). Jaynes strongly promoted the interpretation of probability theory as an extension of 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 and Laplace's principle of indifference. Other contributions include the mind projection fallacy.
Jaynes' book, Probability Theory: The Logic of Science (2003) gathers various threads of modern thinking about Bayesian probability and statistical inference, develops the notion of probability theory as extended logic, and contrasts the advantages of Bayesian techniques with the results of other approaches. This book was published posthumously in 2003 (from an incomplete manuscript that was edited by Larry Bretthorst).