2013 International Year of Statistics

2013 is the International Year of Statistics! What, you didn’t know??? It’s actually pretty cool: there are nearly 2000 organizations – universities, government agencies, schools, societies and research institutions – from over 120 countries participating in the activities. Here’s a map (from Smith College students Sarah Alper and Brittany Claiborne):

What’s great is the diversity of both the types of organizations and where they’re located. It probably doesn’t surprise you to know that the country with the most organizations participating is the US with over 250. But, what country is in second place? India? (no, they’re third with 84). China? (nope, 34th with 10). The UK? (7th with 53). It’s… Bulgaria with 91!

What the International Year means, among other things, is that there’s a lot of buzz about Statistics in the press. You may have seen the WSJ article Data Crunchers Now the Cool Kids on Campus.

Personally, it’s meant a lot of travel for me. Since January 1 I’ve logged over 30,000 miles giving over a dozen keynote addresses about statistics in the US and internationally. I was also the subject of a televised webinar at SAS headquarters in Cary NC last month. I talked about my research on aging in sports performance, doing statistical consulting for the Grateful Dead and what’s hot in statistics.

For the sports performance, here are 40 years of Master’s swim times in freestyle events by length and gender. I used log of time for the event so that we can see very different events in the same plots. Notice that for every age group, times came down fairly rapidly in the first half of the plot and have been leveling out – especially for the older age groups. That’s the participation effect. So many more people are staying competitive longer that the models for aging are all dated.  The other thing to notice is that 60 year olds now are swimming at about the speeds 40 years old swam 40 years ago. So when someone says that 60 is the new 40, they aren’t kidding! Over the summer I hope to build a model that accounts for age, distance, gender and participation. I recently met Dottie Dorian, (wife of  George Dorian ’51) who has participated in over 300 (!) triathlons and holds the 80+ female erg record of 8:49 for a 2k erg (!). She said “Hurray, finally someone will know how to handicap me.” So, stay tuned….