Abstract In the 18th century, while dealing with astronomical and geodesic measurements, the scientists were confronted with a statistical problem, which in those days was described as "the problem of combining inconsistent equations". People who worked on this problem and contributed towards its solutions include Euler, Laplace, Gauss and Legendre among many others. I shall discuss the history of the problem and how it eventually led to the invention of the method of least squares.
Professor Probal Chaudhuri
Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata
Shape of the Earth, Motion of the Planets and the Method of Least Squares