June 16: Statistics in Practice

In this week’s brief we feature a guest blog on Ethical Data Science; our course spotlight is: July 17 – Aug 14: Logistic Regression See you in class! Peter Bruce Founder, Author, and Senior Scientist Ethical Data Science As data science has evolved into AI,…

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June 12: Statistics in Practice

In this Brief, we visit the issue of “statistical arbitrage” in financial markets, and spotlight two courses: June 12 - July 10:  Financial Risk Modeling (today) July 10 - Aug 7:  Spatial Statistics for GIS Using R See you in class! P.S.  Our newest course,…

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June 2: Statistics in Practice

Fear of catching Covid-19 dominates the world, so this week we briefly review how humans think about probabilities, in the context of Covid-19.  Prior beliefs figure heavily in probability calculations, so our course spotlight is on:  July 3 - 31:  Introduction to Bayesian Statistics  See you…

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Bayesian Statistics

Bayesian statistics provides probability estimates of the true state of the world. An unremarkable statement, you might think -what else would statistics be for? But classical frequentist statistics, strictly speaking, only provide estimates of the state of a hothouse world, estimates that must be translated…

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When Probabilities Sum to More than One

In 1998, Craig Fox and Amos Tversky reported on a survey in which U.S. basketball fans were asked to judge the probability that each of 8 teams might win the championship.  Students of statistics can probably guess the outcome - the probabilities for all the…

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May 26: Statistics in Practice

This week we return to Coronavirus data to look at new analyses that use mobile phone data to estimate the effects of social distancing restrictions, a vital question now are we see the world falling into “lockdown recession.”  Speaking of economic matters, our course spotlight…

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Density

As Covid-19 continues to spread, so will research on its behavior.  Models that rely mainly on time-series data will expand to cover relevant other predictors (covariates), and one such predictor will be gregariousness.  How to measure it?  In psychology there is the standard personality trait…

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Tracking Your Wanderings, for the Public Good

A recent development in the modeling of Covid-19 data has been the use of mobile phone location data, now available from Google, to estimate the degree to which social distancing restrictions have been implemented, and the effect they have had.   One interesting analysis comes from…

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May 19: 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: July 17 - Aug 14:  Optimization with Linear Programming See you in class! - Peter Bruce…

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Instructor Spotlight: Wayne Folta

Wayne Folta is a Lead Data Scientist with Elder Research, a leading data science consulting company and the parent of Statistics.com.  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…

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May 12: Statistics in Practice

In this Brief, we dive into the terms “sensitivity” and “specificity” and their relatives.  In our course spotlight, clinical trials is the topic.  Now there’s a site just for the 800+ clinical trials associated with Covid-19 (treatments and vaccines).  Is it time for you to…

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Sensitivity and Specificity

We defined these terms already (see this blog), but how can you remember which is which, so you don’t have to look them up?  If you can remember the order in which to recite them - sensitivity then specificity, it’s easy.  Think “positive and negative”…

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May 5: Statistics in Practice

In this week’s Brief, we look deeper into the question of whether Covid-19 is a senior citizen disease.  Our course spotlight is twofold: Start in May or June:  Mastery in Statistical Modeling (3 courses) June 12 to July 10  Analyzing and Modeling Covid-19 Data See…

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COVID-19: Sensitivity, Specificity, and More

Covid-19 has brought statistical concepts and terms into the news as never before. One confusing tangle is the array of terms surrounding diagnostic test results.  The most basic is accuracy - what percent of test results are correct.  This is not necessarily the most important…

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Miasma

As more information arrives about the Coronavirus, researchers point more and more to airborne particles and aerosols as the mechanism of spread. Photographic images of a sneeze, such as this one from Lydia Bourouiba at MIT (source here), have been seen by many. It turns…

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R0 (R-nought)

For infectious diseases, R0 (R-nought) is the unimpeded replication rate of the disease pathogen in a naive (not immune) population.  An R0 of 2 means that each person with the disease infects two others.  Some things to keep in mind:    An R0 of one means…

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Apr 28: Statistics in Practice

Models of virus growth are in the news, and this week we take a closer look at the modeling of epidemics, and introduce our newest course: June 12 to July 10  Analyzing and Modeling Covid-19 Data We’ll cover analysis of covid data broadly, and focus…

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Apr 14: Statistics in Practice

In this week’s Brief, we explore what data on the flu can tell us about Covid-19 counter-measures.  Our course spotlight is July 31 - Sept 25:  Biostatistics See you in class! - Peter Bruce Founder, Author, and Senior Scientist Social Distancing and the Flu The…

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Apr 2: Statistics in Practice – Special Epi Course

In this special Brief we step back and look at various estimates of the projected death toll from the coronavirus.   Would you like to learn more about the statistical analysis of disease?  We’re offering a special self-paced course to those seeking to improve their knowledge…

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Coronavirus Death Toll

There are tens of thousands of epidemiologists the world over, and we are beginning to see a bumper crop of forecasts for the ultimate 2020 death toll from Covid-19.  It’s a grim but important forecasting task. Most citizens would support draconian measures to prevent deaths…

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Mar 24: Statistics in Practice

In this week’s Brief, we look again at the statistics of Coronavirus.  We also spotlight our Health Analytics Mastery - a 3-course series in which you can choose from among Biostatistics 1 and 2 Designing Valid Statistical Studies Epidemiologic Statistics * Introduction to Statistical Issues…

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Covid-19 Parameters

There are many moving parts in modeling the spread of an epidemic, a subject that has lately attracted the attention of great numbers of statistically-oriented non-epidemiologists (like me).  I’ve put together a “lay statistician’s guide” to some of the important parameters and factors (and I…

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Preliminary Paper

Here is a preliminary paper that suggests that RNA extraction kits, one of the main bottlenecks to Covid-19 testing in the US, can be skipped altogether and the next part of the assay (RT-qPCR) still works.  If confirmed, this result would have a major impact…

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Standardized Death Rate

Often the death rate for a disease is fully known only for a group where the disease has been well studied.  For example, the 3711 passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship are, to date, the most fully studied coronavirus population.  All passengers were tested…

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Coronavirus – in Search of the Elusive Denominator

Anyone with internet access these days has their eyes on two constellations of data - the spread of the coronavirus, and the resulting collapse of the financial markets.  Following the 13% one-day drop of the stock market a week ago, The Wall Street Journal forecast…

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Coronavirus: To Test or Not to Test

In recent years, under the influence of statisticians, the medical profession has dialed back on screening tests.  With relatively rare conditions, widespread testing yields many false positives and doctor visits, whose collective cost can outweigh benefits.  Coronavirus advice follows this line - testing is limited…

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