Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Mathematics and Statistics

Committee Chair(s)

Ronald V. Canfield


Ronald V. Canfield


The principal-factor solution is probably the most widely used technique in factor analysis and a relatively straight forward method to determine the minimum number of independent dimensions needed to account for most of the variance in the original set of variables.

The principal components approach to parsimony was first proposed by Karl Pearson (1901) who studied the problem for the case of nonstochastic variables, and in a different context. Hotelling provided the full development of the method (1933) and Thomson (1947) was the first to apply it to the principal factor analysis.

This method was first developed to deal with problems in psychology but has since been applied in fields as varied as sociology, meteorology, economics, biometry, political science, medicine, geography and business.