Florence Nightingale was a data scientist


Everyone knows Florence Nightingale as a dedicated and courageous caregiver, the founder of modern nursing.  But she was also quite a good statistician.    In 1850’s, while she served at the British military hospitals in Turkey, she instituted rigorous data collection and analysis for medical records.  She collected new types of data, filling notebooks with tables and graphs.  In fact, she popularized a kind of infographic, the “coxcomb” chart (essentially polar area plots).  Because of her data analysis, she was able to demonstrate seasonal trends in mortality and illustrate the large fraction of preventable deaths caused by disease — supporting the idea that poor sanitary conditions were the main cause of hospital deaths.  In fact, in 1859, Florence Nightingale was elected the first female member of the Royal Statistical Society.




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