Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science


Statistics and Actuarial Sciences


Dr David Bellhouse


Using the navigational instruments of his time, Edmond Halley collected data during sea voyages of the HMS Paramore. Following these voyages, in 1701 he published a map showing lines of equal magnetic declination. Magnetic declination or variation is the angular difference between magnetic north and geographical or true north for any point on the earth’s surface. The map has been held up by many as an early, and good, example of statistical graphics. Halley did not reveal the data analytic techniques that he used in his map construction and they remain unknown to this day. Using some mathematical tools of his day, namely arithmetical averages and Newton’s divided difference method to fit a line to data, a plausible method for the map’s construction is given.