Edward L. Kaplan *51 and the Kaplan-Meier Survival Curve


In  1958  Edward L Kaplan *51 and Paul Meier *51  (both former students of John Tukey) published an innovative statistical method in the Journal of the American Statistical Association to estimate survival curves when including incomplete observations. The Kaplan–Meier (KM) method became the standard way of reporting patient survival in medical research. With 44,319 Web of Science® citations as of November 2017, the report has become the most-cited statistics publication in the scientific literature.  A two part article in the BSHM Bulletin: Journal of the British Society for the History of Mathematics, Volume 33, 2018 - Issue 2 pages 109-135 by  Lukas J A Stalpers  and Edward L. Kaplan (who is not related to Edward L Kaplan *51) details the life and work of Kaplan.

The first part describes the KM method, its strengths, limitations, and evolution. The second part contains a detailed  biography of Kaplan and an appreciation of  his unique contributions to the KM method and to science during his career.