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May 19: Statistics in Practice

Statistics in Practice

This week we take a look at evolutionary algorithms (it was 150 years ago that Charles Darwin first used the term “evolution” in his writings).  Our course spotlight is:

See you in class!

Peter Bruce

Founder, Author, and Senior Scientist

Evolutionary Algorithms

In February, I recounted how Darwin’s successors, with the best of intentions, fostered an unfortunate alliance of statistics with eugenics.  The founding fathers of statistics were all eugenicists.  Today we look at a more useful statistical inheritance, so to speak, from Darwin – evolutionary  […]

Word of the Week


Parameterized code in computer programs (or visualizations or spreadsheets) is code where the arguments being operated on are defined once as a parameter, at the beginning, so they do not have to be repeatedly explicitly defined in the body of the code.  This allows for flexible and rapid updating of the input.  Its one drawback […]

Instructor Spotlight

Wayne Folta, Lead Data Scientist at Elder Research

Wayne FoltaWayne Folta is a Lead Data Scientist with Elder Research, a leading data science consulting company and the parent of  Wayne’s current ongoing project involves the extraction, analysis and redaction of text.  For example, a healthcare organization might need to release records, stripped of personally identifiable information, to a partner for analysis;  Wayne’s work facilitates that.  Wayne is also an instructor for’s newest course, Analyzing and Modeling Coronavirus Data, which introduces statistically-literate analysts and epidemiologists to the wealth of Coronavirus data now available, and to the different epidemiological and statistical approaches for modeling that data.  In his spare time, Wayne enjoys snowboarding and the ancient game of Go.

Course Spotlight

Optimization with Linear Programming (July 17 to Aug 14)

Your instructor is Cliff Ragsdale, Professor of Business Information Technology at Virginia Tech, and the author of the best-selling text Spreadsheet Modeling and Decision Analysis.  You will learn how to:

  • Identify decisions that are amenable to linear programming solutions
  • Formulate a linear programming model, and represent it graphically
  • Solve the LP model with spreadsheet-based software
  • Use LP models for various decisions: make or buy, where to invest
  • Use sensitivity analysis and shadow prices to gain additional information from the model

This course is part of a 3-course Mastery Series.  The other courses, Nonlinear Programming and Network Flow and Risk Simulation and Queuing, follow in sequence on Sept. 25 and Nov. 13.  Learn more here.

Analyzing and Modeling Covid-19 Data (June 12 to July 10)

We’ll cover analysis of Covid data broadly, and focus on the epidemiological and statistical models used to forecast the spread of the pandemic. In this seminar-style course for statistically-literate* researchers, you will

  • Explore key rates and features of the Coronavirus data
  • Learn how to specify epidemiological models
  • Learn how to fit statistical models
  • The strengths and weaknesses of each type of model

The instructors are

  • James Hardin, Epidemiology and Biostatistics Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Curriculum for the Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina.
  • Wayne Folta a Lead Data Scientist at Elder Research, Inc. where he develops and deploys models for clients. His current work involves the design and implementation of text mining and deep learning models at the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services; he has also been active within Elder Research in exploring and assessing epidemiological models in R.

See you in class!

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