Irma is Not Category 6, but Could be

As Hurricane Irma continues to gain strength, some have started calling it a category 6 hurricane. The problem with this is the scale only goes up to 5. There are 5 hurricane strength categories and two sub-hurricane strength levels. We can see those plotted below. It is worth asking, if there were a category 6, 7 or even 8, what would that intensity be? What the demarcation point? The plot shows the scale is not strictly linear. There’s a smallish curve that tightens the bands at the top of the scale. In contrast, the Richter scale works the other way,

Syllabus for Introduction to Statistics

I am teaching statistics this fall. I have taught statistics before, but it will be a bit different this year. Historically (and I do not have syllabi posted from prior to this year), statistics was taught online using a fairly restricted format of public one-on-one conversations with the professor. A student would select a problem, solve it, and solve it “in public” in a discussion board. Then we had “quizzes” which were pretty much glorified homework. We’re starting to break out of that mold now into some new territory. The class will have discussion groups focused on less firm questions.

I Thought the Generals Were Due!

My friend follows up on yesterday’s post with this question: I have had a subscription to the MegaMillions game since it started. I always play the same six numbers. Almost every six months I get a check for a few dollars. Why haven’t those six numbers ever come close to a decent payoff? Wouldn’t, over time, the odds increase that those six numbers will show up together? That’s a really complicated question. Most statisticians think the question is stupid, and will happily tell you so, then laugh, and say no. But that’s not entirely fair. To take the question literally,

Halloween Changes to Mega Millions Scare Some

I’m a bit behind the curve, but there’s a a coming change to the Mega Millions interstate lottery game. Of course, as a statistics nerd,1 I’ve talked about the lottery before. So when I got this on my Facebook page, I was all into it: First, we need to take a look at the current game configuration. Right now, tickets cost a dollar and the jackpot starts at $15 million. Given the game configuration, we can estimate what the expected value of a ticket is. That is, if I spend a dollar, how much can I expect to get back.

Teaching Mathematics Online Call for Proposals

I am happy to announce that John F. Beyers, of the University of Maryland University College, will be editing a new book called Teaching and Learning Mathematics Online, to be published by CRC Press in 2019. I have known John since 2010 when I started teaching as an adjunct at UMUC in the math department. Over the years, I realized there were difficulties and hard parts of teaching mathematics via distance education, different from what you see in an English or history course. We want this book to collect the leading ideas and practices of teachers and professors at every

Comments on RPN

I’ve started falling in love with reverse Polish notation (RPN) again. This mostly comes from using PCalc on my iPhone for a lot of calculations, lately. Like so many other kids, I grew up using the Texas Instruments, starting with the TI-82 and TI-85. In college, I “upgraded” to a TI-86, which I recently found in my basement, and it still works. It’s a testament to both the ruggedness of the Texas Instruments builds and the long-lasting durability of the Zilog Z-80, the silicon inside the case. This post won’t teach you how to use RPN, since there are plenty