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BIOGRAPHY 5.1 William J. Youden (1900 -1971)

The Youden square design gets its name from its developer, William John Youden. He was born in Townsville, Australia, but came to the United States at an early age. He studied chemical engineering at the University of Rochester, then chemistry at Columbia University. For many years, he worked at an institute for plant research but eventually joined the National Bureau of Standards (now called the N.I.S.T.).

He always considered himself a chemist, but, for the last 40 years of his life, he surely was a statistician as well. He gained international fame for his outstanding ability in communicating statistical techniques to would-be experimenters.

In a famous 1937 paper, "Use of Incomplete Block Replications in Estimating Tobacco Mosaic Virus", he illustrated an incomplete block design, now called the Youden square, that possessed the double control of a Latin square design but without the restriction that each treatment must occur once, and only once, in each row and column. His design was found to be extremely useful in biological and medical research.

During World War II, Youden served with the U.S. Air Force in Europe and the Pacific and showed exceptional skill in inventing novel statistical tools of experimental design to cope with problems of bombing accuracy. He was awarded the Medal of Freedom for this contribution to the allied victory. This award was just one of a long list of honors bestowed upon a man whose entire career consisted of demonstrating again and again how statistically planned experiments can provide useful knowledge in every field of endeavor. While at the National Bureau of Standards, he directed innumerable ingenious experiments, ranging from road testing truck tires to precisely determining radioactivity, from rating the adherence of enamel to measuring the temperature of chemical cells, from identifying to estimating the effects of systematic error. His work appeared in a number of books and more than 100 papers, filled with case studies of the type noted in text Applications 5.3 and 5.4.

Sources: Adapted from Journal of Quality Technology, January 1972, pp. 3-6, and Dictionary of Scientific Biography, vol. XIV (New York: Charles Scribner's, 1976), pp. 552-557.


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