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… Continue reading »

Measuring the Immeasurable?

In statistics, we draw conclusions from data. But to get data, we need to be able to measure the variable(s) that we are interested in. Measuring can be very crude (say, a trait is absent or present) or rather sophisticated (the expression levels of large numbers of genes). In the… Continue reading »

The Hot Hand

The hot hand is a term used in basketball to describe a player making a series of successful throws at the basket, i.e., getting “hot”. But it seems that we, as humans, are too fast at jumping at the conclusion that someone is “hot” just because we saw… Continue reading »

Like Risk? Be an Actuary!

Do you like risk? Or, more precisely, do you like to assess and quantify risk and put a price on it (the premium that insurance collects)? If yes, consider becoming an actuary. This profession almost always makes the top 10 in the various best jobs lists (like this… Continue reading »

Mathematics and the Iranian Elections

One of the many things I love about mathematics is that results initially discovered in one realm pop up in surprising places. A terrific example is Benford’s law of digit bias (those taking Math 341 in the fall will get to learn a lot more about this!). Benford’s… Continue reading »

Math is Music

Almost 30 years ago, something happened that made introductory statistics harder to teach. Students didn’t suddenly become less teachable, nor did professors forget their craft. It was that we began to switch from teaching statistics as a mathematics course to teaching the art and craft of statistics as its… Continue reading »

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