Bienaymé, Cournot and the extinction of family names (1845–1847)
The French statistician Bienaymé understood in 1845 how to compute the probability of a family name becoming extinct if each male has a number of sons following a given probability distribution. If the average number of sons is less than or equal to one, the family name will become extinct. It the average is bigger than one, the extinction probability is strictly less than one. The proof of his result was published two years later in a book written by his friend Cournot. These works were rediscovered only recently.
KeywordsVote System Male Offspring Extinction Probability Family Line General Inspector
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