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Frank Wilcoxon (1892–1965) was a chemist and statistician, known for the development of statistical tests.

Frank Wilcoxon was born to American parents on 2 September 1892 in County Cork, Ireland[1]. He grew up in Catskill, New York but received part of his education in England. In 1917 he graduated from Pennsylvania Military College with a B.Sc.. After the First World War he entered graduate studies, first at Rutgers University, where he was awarded an M.S. in chemistry in 1921, and then at Cornell University, gaining a Ph.D. in physical chemistry in 1924.

Wilcoxon entered a research career, working at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research from 1925 to 1941. He then moved to the Atlas Powder Company, where he designed and directed the Control Laboratory, before joining the American Cyanamid Company in 1943. During this time he developed an interest in inferential statistics through the study of R.A. Fisher's 1925 text, Statistical Methods for Research Workers. He retired in 1957.

Over his career Wilcoxon published over 70 papers[2], but the paper for which he is remembered is a 1945 paper[3] containing the two new statistical tests that still bear his name, the Wilcoxon rank-sum test and the Wilcoxon signed-rank test. These are non-parametric alternatives to the unpaired and paired Student's t-tests respectively. He died on 18 November 1965 after a brief illness.


  1. Bradley, R.A. (1966) Obituary: Frank Wilcoxon. Biometrics 22(1): 192–194
  2. Karas, J. & Savage, I.R. (1967) Publications of Frank Wilcoxon (1892–1965). Biometrics 23(1): 1–10
  3. Wilcoxon, F. (1945) Individual Comparisons by Ranking Methods. Biometrics Bulletin 1: 80–83.

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