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STAT 201
Intro to Business Statistics

This course will introduce basic statistical tools from probability and descriptive statistics. These have valuable "real-world" applications in a variety of fields. We will explore many of these applications, in a wide range of areas, from gambling, to the stock market, to environmental concerns, to civil rights, to sports. The class will prepare you to take STAT 301, the main business statistics course.

Students having difficulty with the course are always welcome to see the instructor during office hours (listed in the course syllabus). There is also a tutor for the course, available on this schedule.

Grades on the first two Basic Skills Tests are posted here. Students must pass the test twice (with a grade of 80 or higher each time), in order to pass the course.

Syllabus Schedule Homework Assignments Old Exams Grades are assigned with 
          a random number generator

This course is oriented around a "mastery" concept of learning. In this framework, exams and homework are intended primarily to provide a structure for mastery of course content, and only incidentally give a mechanism for assigning a grade. This is in direct contrast with traditional classes, where (at least functionally, if not intentionally) tests and assignments are primarily grade-oriented.

Material in the course is presented sequentially, from the most basic to the most advanced. We begin with foundational statistical procedures (the standard deviation, expected value, histogram, and normal distribution). Mastery of these topics is essential for success in further work in statistics. Students who demonstrate this mastery, on homework and by passing a "Basic Skills Test," merit a passing grade (D) in the course.

We then move on to somewhat more advanced topics — material that is still fairly fundamental, but more focused on real-world application and less on necessity as prerequisite for further course work in statistics. As part of this unit, students will read Darrell Huff's classic work, How to Lie with Statistics, as well as completing a unit on statistical ranking and rating prodecures. Students who demonstrate mastery at this level, as evidenced by successful completion of homework assignments, merit a satisfactory (C) grade in the course.

Next comes material of more specialized real-world application. We'll consider more advanced procedures in statistical graphics. We'll also devote time to understanding correlation and regression techniques, widely used to describe and quantify the relationship between two (numerical) variables. Mastery of the material at this level, as demonstrated through homework, is indicated by a good (B) grade in the course.

The course ends with coverage of basic topics in probability, including rules for probability of compound events, combinatorial probability, and conditional probability. While these are not "advanced" topics, they tend to be more difficult ones. They are presented not only for their own usefulness, but also for their value in building quantitative and analytic skills. Mastery of this material, as evidenced through homework and a final exam, is indicated by an outstanding (A) grade in the course.

Homework Assignments

There will be a homework assignment most weeks in this class. They progress in mastery levels (as discussed above) and are design to facilitate learning of course material. On each assignment a satisfactory grade of 80% or higher is expected. While the intention is that students will normaly demonstrate this level of mastery on first attempt, the homework assignments may be repeated as needed until sufficient competence is shown. General instructions for the format of homework submissions can be found here.

Week Date Topic Assignment
(due next week)
Mon Wed
1 1/12 1/14 Course intro & standard deviation Homework D1
2 1/19 1/21 MLK Holiday (Monday)      Optional review session (Wednesday)
3 1/26 1/28 Expected value and variance Homework D2
4 2/2 2/4 Histograms Homework D3
5 2/9 2/11 Normal distribution Homework D4
6 2/16 2/18 BASIC SKILLS TEST Homework C1 (Huff #1)
7 2/23 2/25 Rankings and ratings Homework C2
  3/2 3/4 SPRING BREAK!!!!!
8 3/9 3/11 Intermediate graphical techniques Homework B1
9 3/16 3/18 BASIC SKILLS TEST Homework C3 (Huff #2)
10 3/23 3/25 Correlation and regression #1 No Assignment
11 3/30 4/1 Correlation and regression #2 Homework B3
12 4/6 4/8 Conditional probability Homework A1
13 4/13 4/15 Compound probability Homework A2
14 4/20 4/22 Combinatorial probability Homework A3
15 4/27 4/29 Probability review