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.

Gelman’s Candy Weighing Demonstration

We did Andrew Gelman’s candy weighing demonstration in class on Friday. This was the first time I’ve had a chance to teach sampling in some time and really wanted to do it. These were not traditional statistics students, however. We did this in research methods. So these are students interested in management and getting drug through a statistics course. And that might be putting it nicely. Nevertheless, they were good about the experiment. We also had some slight modifications to Gelman’s procedure. First, we used the measurements (in grams) printed right on the side of the packaging. And everyone did

My Review of Monogan’s Political Analysis Using R

The Journal of Statistical Software has published another review I wrote, this time of Monogan’s Political Analysis Using R: No Title No Description The book is a solid choice for a primary or supplementary text in a political or policy methodology class, at the level of advanced undergraduate or first-year graduate student. You can get more information from Springer’s website: Political Analysis Using R | James E. Monogan III | Springer This book provides a narrative of how R can be useful in the analysis of public administration, public policy, and political science data specifically, in…

The Severity of Severe Events is Increasing

On Thursday night, Mary Catherine Cochran, executive director of the Patapsco Heritage Greenway, asked some very insightful questions about my analysis of flooding in Ellicott City: These questions are worth going into some detail, so let me now discuss what it means that the data is changing. Data is considered to be stationary if it is random and if the characteristics from randomness, such as mean and variance, do not change over time. You can kind of think of this like a bus schedule. Sometimes the bus comes on time. Sometimes it is late. Sometimes, it is even early. However,