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Oct 14: Statistics in Practice

Statistics in Practice

This week we look at several ways to fool yourself, statistically – variants of the “Gambler’s Fallacy.” Gambling is all about accurately assessing risk, so, naturally, our featured course is:

See you in class!

Peter Bruce,
Chief Academic Officer, Author, Instructor, and Founder

The Institute for Statistics Education at

Statistical Thinking

Gambler’s Fallacy

Is a baseball umpire judging a close pitch less likely to call a strike if he has called the two previous pitches strikes? More likely? Learn which, and how the Gambler’s Fallacy plays a role […]

Word of the Week

Latin hypercube

In Monte Carlo sampling for simulation problems, random values are generated from a probability distribution deemed appropriate for a given scenario (uniform, poisson, exponential, etc.). Latin hypercube sampling, in contrast to simple random sampling, […]

Historical Spotlight

Gambler’s Fallacy I at Monte Carlo

On August 18, 1913, at the famous casino in Monte Carlo, Monaco, the roulette ball fell black 26 times in a row. Gamblers, seeing the streak grow, increasingly shifted their bets to red, feeling that an excess of reds was due, to counterbalance the remarkable black streak. They lost millions.


Realism on Risk

Risk is a favorite topic for quotes. Nearly 100% of these quotes are from people who were successful in taking risks, and the quotes take a romantic and motivational view of risk. They encourage people to take risks, that being the only way to learn and accomplish something worthwhile. Richard Branson, founder of the various Virgin airline and aerospace ventures, has his own list, liberally illustrated with photos of Branson on a tightrope, Branson leaning out of a cockpit, Branson gazing contemplatively into the distance from a mountaintop.

Very few take a more balanced and realistic view; here is one:

“When forecasting the outcomes of risky projects, executives too easily fall victim to the planning fallacy. In its grip, they make decisions based on delusional optimism rather than on a rational weighting of gains, losses and probabilities.”

Daniel KahnemanThinking Fast and Slow

Course Spotlight

Nov 15 – Dec 13: Risk Simulation and Queuing

In this course, you will use Excel-based simulation software to:

  • Construct and implement simulation models to model the uncertainty in decision input variables (e.g. price, demand, etc.), so that the overall estimate of interest from a model can be supplemented by a risk interval
  • Construct and implement queuing models to model the variability in arrivals over time (customers at a service desk, cars at a toll plaza, data packets, etc.) and ensuing queues
  • Use decision trees to incorporate information derived from models to actually make optimal decisions.

Your instructor is Cliff Ragsdale, Professor of Business Information Technology at Virginia Tech University and author of the best-selling text Spreadsheet Modeling and Decision Analysis.

See you in class!

Digital Badges

Risk, Simulation and Queuing

Digital badges provide employers and peers concrete evidence of what you have learned and the skills required to earn your credential. Each badge’s digital image holds verified metadata describing your qualifications and the mastery required to earn them.

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If you have any questions on our courses, certificates, and degree programs and how they can apply to you, your work, and to your career, please get in touch. We’re here to help you succeed.