Skip to content

Job Spotlight: Digital Marketer

A digital marketer handles a variety of tasks in online marketing – managing online advertising and search engine optimization (SEO), implementing tracking systems (e.g. to identify how a person came to a retailer), web development, preparing creatives, implementing tests, and, of course, analytics. There are typically three types of employers: Marketing agencies that contract outContinue reading “Job Spotlight: Digital Marketer”

The Statistics of Christmas Trees

A researcher shakes a sprig from a Christmas tree, and counts the number of needles that fall. He then repeats the process for countless other sprigs. The sprigs are from a variety of species, and the goal is to determine which species do the best job of retaining their needles. Falling needles are a definiteContinue reading “The Statistics of Christmas Trees”

The False Alarm Conundrum

False alarms are one of the most poorly understood problems in applied statistics and biostatistics. The fundamental problem is the wide application of a statistical or diagnostic test in search of something that is relatively rare. Consider the Apple Watch’s new feature that detects atrial fibrillation (afib). Among people with irregular heartbeats, Apple claims aContinue reading “The False Alarm Conundrum”

Book Review: Active-Epi

ActivEpi Web, by David Kleinbaum, is the text used in two courses (Epidemiology Statistics and Designing Valid Studies), but it is really a rich multimedia web-based presentation of epidemiological statistics, serving the role of a unique textbook format for an introductory course in the subject. It is historically noteworthy – it dates back toContinue reading “Book Review: Active-Epi”

Deming’s Funnel Problem

W. Edwards Deming’s funnel problem is one of statistics’ greatest hits. Deming was a noted statistician who took the statistical process control methods of Shewhart and expanded them into a holistic approach to manufacturing quality. Initially, his ideas were cooly received in the US and he ended up implementing them first in Japan. The successContinue reading “Deming’s Funnel Problem”

Industry Spotlight: the Auto Industry

The auto industry serves as a perfect exemplar of three key eras of statistics and data science in service of industry: Total Quality Management (TQM) First in Japan, and later in the U.S., the auto industry became an enthusiastic adherent to the Total Quality Management philosophy. Fundamentally, TQM is all about using data to improveContinue reading “Industry Spotlight: the Auto Industry”

Random Selection for Harvard Admission?

An ethical algorithm… Ethics in algorithms is a popular topic now. Usually the conversation centers around the possible unintentional bias or harm that a statistical or machine learning algorithm could do when it is used to select, score, rate, or rank people. For example – a credit scoring algorithm may include a predictor that isContinue reading “Random Selection for Harvard Admission?”

GE Regresses to the Mean

Thirty years ago, GE became the brightest star in the firmament of statistical ideas in business when it adopted Six Sigma methods of quality improvement. Those methods had been introduced by Motorola, but Jack Welch’s embrace of the same methods at GE, a diverse manufacturing powerhouse, helped bring stardom to industrial statisticians. Last week, GE’sContinue reading “GE Regresses to the Mean”

Examples of Bad Forecasting

In a couple of days, theWall Street Journalwill come out with its November survey of economists’ forecasts. It’s a particularly sensitive time, with elections in a few days and President Trump attacking the Federal Reserve for for raising interest rates. It’s a good time to recall major forecasting gaffes of the past. In 1987, best-sellingContinue reading “Examples of Bad Forecasting”

Course Spotlight: Two statistical modeling courses

Two important statistical modeling courses are coming up in May. May 18 – Jun 15: Principal Components and Factor Analysis May 18 – Jun 15: Modeling Count Data   Factor analysis is used frequently in social science research where you want to examine that which you cannot observe (latent variables) using data that you canContinue reading “Course Spotlight: Two statistical modeling courses”

Masters Programs versus an Online Certificate in Data Science from

We just attended the analytics conference of INFORMS’ (The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences) this week in Baltimore, and they held a special meeting for directors of academic analytics programs to better align what universities are producing with what industry is seeking. The number of such programs is still growing rapidly (>200),Continue reading “Masters Programs versus an Online Certificate in Data Science from”

Course Spotlight: Spatial Statistics Using R

Have you ever needed to analyze data with a spatial component? Geographic clusters of disease, crimes, animals, plants, events?Or describing the spatial variation of something, and perhaps correlating it with some other predictor? Assessing whether the geographic distribution of something departs from randomness? Location data is ubiquitous, as are maps drawn by GIS software. SkilledContinue reading “Course Spotlight: Spatial Statistics Using R”

Be Smarter Than Your Devices: Learn About Big Data

When Apple CEO Tim Cook finally unveiled his company’s new Apple Watch in a widely-publicized rollout earlier this month, most of the press coverage centered on its cost ($349 to start) and whether it would be as popular among consumers as the iPod or iMac. Nitin Indurkhya saw things differently. “I think the most significantContinue reading “Be Smarter Than Your Devices: Learn About Big Data”

Big Data and Clinical Trials in Medicine

There was an interesting article a couple of weeks ago in the New York Times magazine section on the role that Big Data can play in treating patients — discovering things that clinical trials are too slow, too expensive, and too blunt to find. The story was about a very particular set of lupus symptoms,Continue reading “Big Data and Clinical Trials in Medicine”

Twitter Sentiment vs. Survey Methods

Nobody expects Twitter feed sentiment analysis to give you unbiased results the way a well-designed survey will. A Pew Research study found that Twitter political opinion was, at times, much more liberal than that revealed by public opinion polls, while it was more conservative at other times. Two statisticians speaking at the Joint Statistical MeetingsContinue reading “Twitter Sentiment vs. Survey Methods” Partners With CrowdANALYTIX to Offer New Online Course With Crowdsource Contest As Project

Crowdsourcing, using the power of the crowd to solve problems, has been used for many functions and tasks, including predictive modeling (like the 2009 Netflix Contest). Typically, problems are broadcast to an unknown group of statistical modelers on the Internet, and solutions are sought. Every crowdsourced project harnesses the power of the community to findContinue reading “ Partners With CrowdANALYTIX to Offer New Online Course With Crowdsource Contest As Project”

Illuminate, Iterate, Involve, Involvement, Iteration, Insight

I did not start off in the field of statistics; my first real job was as a diplomat. And from my undergraduate days I recall a professor who taught a cultural history of Russia. He was one of the world’s top experts. Possessed of a tremendous store of knowledge (a leading author in the field,Continue reading “Illuminate, Iterate, Involve, Involvement, Iteration, Insight”