On behalf of a friend I am searching for a thesis on block designs from the 1950s. The details are below.

Author: Qazi Motahar Husein (Sometimes Husain or Hussein).

Title of the Thesis: Symmetrical Incomplete Block Designs

Date: c.1950

Awarding Institution: University of Dhaka, East Pakistan (now in Bangladesh).

Examiner: Ronald A. Fisher, Balfour Professor of Genetics at Cambridge University.

It is not in the University of Dhaka library, and I guess the next step would be to ask Cambridge librarians. I was wondering if anyone has any other suggestions!

Apparently Fisher and Husein had a correspondence stretching over ten years after his PhD, and Fisher repeatedly cites the thesis. Unfortunately Husein's thesis is not in Fisher’s archives in Adelaide, Australia.

Some of Husein's papers are available online. For example:

Impossibility of the Symmetrical Incomplete Block Design with $\lambda =2, k=7$

is available at:


Thanks, and apologies if this isn't completely appropriate for MO. However it seems to me that "searching for an old maths / stats thesis" is fair game.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ If this were accompanied with a statement like "Also, of the three other papers that cite the thesis, I emailed the surviving authors with no reply regarding a copy", I would think it quite a reasonable reference request. If you do get the thesis, report back here and arrange to make a copy available. Gerhard "Quid Pro Quo With Community" Paseman, 2016.04.12. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 18:25
  • $\begingroup$ looks like a typo in the title; it should be "...DesignS". $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 19:44
  • $\begingroup$ I think @DimaPasechnik was saying that the title of the thesis is "Symmetrical Incomplete Block Designs." $\endgroup$
    – JRN
    Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 9:26
  • $\begingroup$ OK! "Refixed" :) $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 12:06
  • $\begingroup$ The title author combination does not show up on Google Scholar, although similar works do. Do you have multiple citations by Fisher to confirm the author and title as displayed in your post? Also, the other articles seem earlier than 1950, so I would expect the thesis to be earlier too. Gerhard "Doesn't Seem To Add Up" Paseman, 2016.04.13. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 23:09


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