Numbers and US

Story that numbers tell us

History of Statistics

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Couple of months back I did a course on Bayesian Statistics organized by SF chapter of ASA and eBay-Google . The course was really great, and I wish I were more disciplined and grasped more from the course.

The instructor, David Draper, is really great. In addition to teaching us Bayesian Statistics, he talked about the history of statistical methods. When he talked about hypothesis testing and Neyman, he talked about the tools that we had in 1930’s with us.  To me, it was like, you teleport yourself to 30’s, and forget all the learning and tools (computers) we had so far in 100 years, and make yourself aware of the challenges and prejudices faced by scientific community of that time, and try to come up withsomething – that future generation would know as hypothesis testing.

Not just that when David Draper talked about Jerzy Neyman  he talked about Roland Fisher, when he talked about Fisher, he talked about Karl Pearson. He mentioned a book on history of statistics. As far as I recall, it was a book by Stephen M. Stigler, Statistics on the table. Though I am not sure, and I have to ask him again.

But, in any case, I ended up buying two books on history of Statistics and statistical methods, that I received last night . The book ‘Statistics on the Table’ and ‘The Lady Tasting Tea’. Since The Lady Tasting Tea talks about Statistics of the twentieth century, I am going to start with this. Or, pondering over my choice for a while,I think, I might be starting with this one because the book cover is more interesting – a cup of tea with a piece of lemon tucked on it, resting over chess-board styled tiled floor, and a lady with a hat on, not facing the cup, but  looking at the horizon where the sun is taking shelter for the night.

I just hope this book makes me smarter enough to design an experiment to find out the underlying reason of my choice – even with a sample size of one, as in my case.

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Written by SK

November 13, 2013 at 4:44 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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