Survivor Bias: WW2 Edition
| Lasse Lien |
During World War 2 the British Royal Air Force (and Navy) pioneered the use of empirical and statistical analysis to improve performance — laying the foundation for the field we now know as Operations Research.
One fascinating anecdote is how these pioneers used data on damage from German air defense fire. The RAF collected large amounts of data on exactly where returning aircraft had received damage. The intuitive recommendation would be to reinforce the aircraft were the data indicated they took the most damage. However, realizing that they only had data from surviving aircraft, the OR group under leadership of Patrick Blackett recommended that they reinforce the aircraft in the sections where no damage was recorded in the data. Clever chaps, I dare say.